Product placements are ready for prime time

If you want to get a customer’s attention, marketers know that there is no substitute for showing a customer how a product really works in the real world. And if you want to show them product on a large scale, then get it placed in a television show or a movie.

Product placement might not be an official one of the famous marketing 4Ps (product, price, promotion, place), but maybe it’s time to add it as a unique fifth P. Companies that are able to get their products shown on the big screen – or even a small screen – bring their products to the attention of millions of viewers, all of whom have opted-in to watching a show or movie.

Case in point – “Modern Family” TV show on ABC turns down 90% of the requests they get for product placements. To this show, the product must be relevant to the characters and the storyline. Episodes use products that are germane to the scene and the story. A good example was having a Toyota Prius driven by an environmentally conscious character. Another example had one technology-loving character using an iPad even before it was commercially available.

Is it worth the cost to marketers? Considering that the average 30-second commercial costs more than $249,000 on Modern Family, several seconds of airplay of the product in use can easily recover the costs.


Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Ask students to name their three favorite TV shows and/or movies that they recently viewed.
  2. Next, ask them to name at least five products that they can recall seeing in the show. Were those products there by accident?
  3. Show a video clip of one of the TV shows or movies. The clips can easily be found on,, and other sites.
  4. Ask students to name the top five brands that appear in movies or TV shows.
    1. Check these brand appearances by going to, and click on the Brand Cameos link:
    2. Divide students into teams.
      1. Have each team choose two products they would like to have placed in a TV show.
      2. Give these choices to another team and ask the team how they would use the products in the show.


Sources: Advertising Age,

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