Advertising in Disguise


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Dodging The Commercials

Did you know that more and more people are avoiding traditional commercials? That is no surprise, but thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, viewers can now watch their favorite TV shows and movies without pesky commercial breaks interrupting their binge-watching sessions.

However, this has posed a challenge for advertisers who are struggling to reach their target audience through traditional means. That's where product placement comes in! It's a creative way for brands to showcase their products within the video content itself. With the rise of streaming platforms, product placement is becoming a popular option for brands to tell their story and connect with their audience in a more subtle way. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares why product placement, despite not being a new marketing practice, is finally being considered one of the newer alternatives to a commercial by brand marketers.

Advertising in Disguise

Product Placement Across Streaming Services

Product placements are becoming popular with younger audiences who make up the bulk of streaming platform users. They can also be used across different types of shows, unlike traditional TV ads which are usually targeted to specific audiences.

In some shows, product placements are more subtle and in the background, while in others are more obvious and part of the story. For example, in Gossip Girl, there's a product placement for Square that's so subtle most viewers probably didn't even notice it! On the other hand, in Stranger Things, products are actually mentioned in the dialogue and become part of the story.

Different shows use different tactics based on their goals, but the most recent product placement in Stranger Things 3 has caused a buzz on social media, with fans clamoring for collector's items related to the show. Can you guess what it is? 


Growth of Stranger Things

Stranger Things 3 was one of the most anticipated releases of this summer. The new season premiered July 4th and over 40 million people watched within the four days since its release. This worldwide supernatural thriller executes product placement flawlessly. The series is known for making 80s pop culture references and weaving brands into the season's plot line. One of the most infamous product placements was Eggo's; Eleven's favorite snack.

But, not just the product got the buzz. Clothing companies have created products that mimic the series' plot and the look of the characters. Levi's created a "capsule collection" designed to look like the character's clothes. The clothing store H&M partnered with Netflix to create a line of t-shirts, shorts, and swimwear inspired by the Hawkins Community Pool featured in Stranger Things 3.

Beyond clothing and product companies, restaurants also wanted to be part of the chain. Burger King saw an opportunity in Stranger Things 3 to sell limited Upside Down Whopper Meal at selected locations. Genius. Whether you are a fast food chain, product, or clothing brand, you can find a way to product place within a commercial, show, or movie. 

Upside Down Whopper

Photo Credit: Burger King

Netflix and Coca-Cola

Netflix is no newbie to product placements. They're pretty savvy when it comes to collaborating with brands, like when they worked with Coca-Cola on the latest season of Stranger Things.

The show is set in 1985, which is the same year Coca-Cola released a major flop called New Coke. It was a total disaster and was only on the market for 79 days before being pulled. But guess what? This failure from 1985 actually became a huge part of the Stranger Things 3 storyline thanks to a conversation between Netflix and Coca-Cola. Can you spot the New Coke in this scene? 

Photo Credit: Youtube

The Coca-Cola Company has been using product placement as a core marketing tactic since way back in 1933, when they were featured in the movie King Kong. From then on, they've been popping up in TV shows and movies left, right, and center, becoming a symbol of American culture and a constant presence in pop culture. They even opened up offices in Los Angeles in the 1960s to keep up with all the demand for their product placements!

But get this: according to the company, their inclusion in movies and TV shows wasn't even intentional at first! Filmmakers just naturally included the drink because it felt like it belonged in the frame. The key to successful product placement - is authenticity and the feeling it belongs in the story. 

New Coca Cola

Photo Credit: Netflix

Why do Brands Use Product Placement?

But why would a well-known company, which never intended to use product placement, feature a flopped soda in Stranger Things 3? For cultural innovation? To keep up with the evolving media landscape? To break the internet? The answer is all of the above!

The goal for every brand is to stay relevant and keep their product in front of consumers. As Americans, we expect to see a character with a Coca-Cola soda in their hands. With a rapidly changing media landscape, and the change in how individuals consume their television shows and movies it is becoming difficult to utilize advertisements the way they used to be. Coca-Cola, as it always has, is keeping ahead of the times and continuing to evolve with trends.

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More About Product Placement

The viewing habits of individuals are changing every day. The options for reaching an audience are growing daily. If you are interested to learn more about product placement and how it has been used in other productions, check out blog posts written by our team!

Want to stay in the know with all things pop culture? Look no further than our Hot in Hollywood newsletter! Each week, we compile a list of the most talked-about moments in the entertainment industry, all for you to enjoy!

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