Advertisements have always been the lifeblood of television. Did you know that Soap Operas got their name because they were funded by Proctor & Gamble? Their commercials (generally a soap product) funded the shows. Television commercials became more prominent and aggressive as the years passed. However, Tivo and other DVR devices changed the game by allowing us to record shows and watch them at our convenience. Streaming devices like Netflix made this even worse for advertisers because the streamed entertainment contained no ads at all. Because of the technological changes throughout the past decade, advertisers needed to find creative ways push products. Enter the emergence of widespread product placement.
Product placement is an interesting method of marketing because some consumers don’t mind it, while others hate it. In order for people to accept the product placement, the products need to be successfully integrated into the entertainment without the product making the show feel like a giant advertisement. Check out this (not-so-subtle) product placement in Days of our Lives.
This product placement was so pushy it came across as a joke. Are Cheerios really this character’s solution to eating healthier? Here is another (even less subtle) Cheerios product placement on Days of our Lives.
Apparently the two characters in these scenes need to worry about eating healthy now? They are both in great shape. The scenes displayed here were awkward and cheesy. He even asks her to finish his Cheerios because, apparently, the product is too valuable to throw out.
There cannot be a Product Placement post without a mention of the two and a half hour commercial in the form of the Transformers 2 movie. The movie was released in 2009 with enough product placement to last us a lifetime. Here are some of the brands that made their way into the movie: General Motors, Mountain Dew, Kellogg (Growmulch), Cisco, Chevrolet, Southwest Airlines, MetLife, CNN, Air France, Audi, LG, Sprint, Yahoo!, Panasonic, HSBC, IMAX Theatre, Garmin, and Budweiser. If you were wondering why the movie lacked a plot, this may be why.
The products are not pitched in the same way as the Cheerios in Days of Our Lives, but they are incredibly visible throughout the movie. Do the Product Placements take away from the movies and shows that they are placed in? Many of us ignore them when they are relevant, because they can add realism to a movie. You don’t have to look for very long to find someone using an iPhone in real life, so it makes sense that fictional characters use them too. However, many of the products are placed into the shots with their logos placed too clearly in the scene, making them stand out like a giant pimple.
The Panasonic product placement in the original Transformers movie became well known because of how it was presented to the camera. In the movie, one of the characters ejects an SD memory card and places it toward the camera, for no reason.
Modern Family has also used product placement. However, the product placement fit well with one of the shows most beloved characters, Phil Dunphy. In one scene, the Apple iPod is being released on Phil’s birthday, and so he is hinting to his wife that he wants it. The product placement felt more organic in the scene because the scripted product placement fit with Phil Dunphy’s persona.
Another great example of product placement takes place in the hit television show, The Office. In one scene, Michael Scott, his boss, and a prospective client are eating at Chili’s to discuss business. However, Michael interrupts the business conversation to order an Awesome Blossom and then sings the infamous Chili’s Baby Back Ribs song. The scene works well because Michael’s actions in the scene, including the product placement, fit perfectly with his character.
Will product placement last? Most likely. Why? Because it is a great source of funding for television shows and movies. Technology has allowed us to skip commercials, and so advertisers are adapting to survive. Advertising is a battle between consumers who just want to watch their shows and brands willing to help fund shows in exchange for some brand exposure. In the end, which would you prefer: seven minutes of advertisements or product placement in your favorite shows and movies?