Early examples of branded goods “placement” in television shows, films and print date back nearly one hundred years so it’s clearly not a recent phenomenon. However Irish law has only permitted product placement since September 2011.
As a strategy for gaining your target audience’s attention is now arguably far more effective then traditional TV advertising breaks during and between programmes.
Consumers now have total control over what and when they view their content due to the mass market proliferation of digital video recorders. Viewers can fast forward and totally avoid watching your big budget TV advert at the click of a button. Unavoidably this consumer viewing change has had a significant impact on advertising success, not to mention loss of revenue for broadcasters.
Product placement has been used very successfully leveraged in American cinema and television, with brands achieving high profile visibility and targeted audience attention in a “captured environment” for many years now. Big brands have very successfully integrated product placement as a key part of their brand strategy with increasingly sophisticated visibility, which has both aligned their brand with the relevant celebrity, VIP or film/TV show genre.
Think closer to home with the huge success of the James Bond franchise where automobile companies such as Aston Martin and BMW may have invested substantial sums for their brands placement in the James Bond movies.
Not only have they benefited from mass exposure to a targeted audience but their brands have become synonymous with one of the best known characters in film history. Their brand’s identity, and what it stands for, are now inextricably intertwined with those of the character of James Bond – suave, sophisticated, intelligent, worldly wise, a challenger and a thrill-seeker.
It’s worth noting that BMW is now the world’s best selling luxury vehicle brand, outselling Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.
While this is a much more overt example of product placement, equally it can be very subtle and understated too with the glimpse of a branded drinks can or bottle on a table, a billboard advertisement in the background of a scene, all of which are proven to have a subliminal impact on the viewer.
Brands in Ireland have been quick to take advantage of the new laws allowing product placement on national TV. Kraft Food’s Kenco coffee is now the “preferred” coffee of choice for presenters of TV3’s Morning Show and Midday, with branded mugs firmly in the hands of all on screen, albeit at an investment of €250,000 per year to Kraft Foods.
RTE have embraced product placement to the extent of writing it into the plot of Ireland’s most watched soap. Faircity’s Christie is now the proud owner of Carrickstown’s first Spar corner shop. This brand placement came complete with an official store-launch for the characters of Dublin’s famous fictional community!
The product placement of the Spar brand in a show like Faircity is regarded as a winning strategy for all concerned. Spar get huge exposure beamed into the homes of their target audience multiple times a week, the audience see the brand in life like associations they can relate to in their own lives and referenced or indirectly endorsed by their favourite characters numerous times throughout each episode.
The producers and writers of the show benefit from a real-world authenticity that Spar’s involvement brings to their fictional town, and of course RTE are delighted with the revenue stream that the three-year €900,000 sponsorship and marketing investment by BWG bring to the broadcaster.
While the fees invested by Kraft and BWG may be far outside the range of smaller brands, the choice to place your brand on Irish television should be a real consideration as part of your brand strategy.
The subtle placement of products for much smaller fees can still create a large impression on your target audience with 42% of Irish television viewers claiming to “often notice products or brands that appear in TV programmes”.
While still in its infancy on this side of the pond, the placement of brands on Irish television shows is still something of a talking point or novelty among Irish viewers. This suggests that there could be double impact for first-mover brands who integrate this form of advertising into their brand strategy.
It’s also worth noting too that it’s not always about the money. Apple topped the US charts for movie product placement in 2011. Unlike other brands however, Apple do not pay for product placement but rather provide the products themselves as a means of payment for displaying them in television shows, films, and print.
This form of product placement, a bartering of products or services for brand exposure, could offer huge opportunities to smaller or medium size companies looking to gain a larger national profile for their brand.
• Can your brand leverage the new possibilities offered by product placement in the Irish market?
• Does your brand’s identity and strategy align with that of existing Irish television shows and their target audiences?
• Does your brand have a positioning strategy in place?
What do you think of Coca-Cola’s cinematic product placement history shown in this infographic courtesy of “anyclip”?