Product placements are not unique to today’s times of streaming services. This has been going on for years as companies seek brand recognition and association with influencing characters. The first documented example of product placement was attributed to the Lumiere brothers in 1896 when they featured soap in a film “Washing day in Switzerland.” And in the 1930s Proctor & Gamble began sponsoring daytime dramas featuring its products.
From that humble beginning, today’s product placement has generated an industry worth an estimated $23 billion today.
Why product placement? As marketers know, consumers don’t like to watch commercials. Recent research indicates that 74% of online adults in the U.S. often skip ads. This makes it critical for marketers to get their product in front of consumers in a realistic and organic way. As consumers stream more content, product placements are up and advertising spending is trending down.
The best product placements fit the scene and reflect well on the characters and the brand. No one wants to see their product blow up in the hero’s face on TV! The product doesn’t even have to be show; characters who mention the brand are still effective (verbal product placement). Viewers also respond stronger to brands place earlier in the show rather than later. (Kind of like how Super Bowl ads are more expensive in the first quarter of the game than at the end.)
Core Hydration Water seems to be in a lot of places lately. It’s distinctive bottle shape and color are in various shows on several streaming services and networks: “He’s all that,” Riverdale,” “Nancy Drew,” “Love in the time of coronoa,” “Below Deck,” and “How I met your father.”
Dell Computers tries to be in as many places as possible to highlight its products: “Succession,” The sex lives of college girls,” and “And just like that.” Zillow, the real estate site, also uses product placements and product mentions: “Dead to me,” “Grace and Frankie,” and “Never have I ever.”
What have you noticed?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Show Hollywood Branded Website for examples of product placement: https://hollywoodbranded.com/
- Ask students to name three TV shows or movies that they recently viewed.
- Next, ask them to name at least three products that they can recall seeing in the show. Were those products there by accident?
- Show a video clip of one of the TV shows or movies. The clips can usually be found on www.hulu.com, www.youtube.com, and other sites.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team choose two products they would like to have placed in a TV show.
- How would these products be incorporated? What is the show/movie? What is the desired result?
Sources: Haigney, S. (24 June 2022). Anatomy of a product placement. New York Times.; Fossen, B. (14 September 2021). Product placement is a $23 billion business and growing. Here’s why brands keep betting on it. Fast Company.