The Power Of Product Placement Versus Influencer Marketing


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Which Buzz Word Do Marketers Prefer?

I was recently asked by a reporter if influencer marketing or product placement was better. And you know what - I actually do think product placement in general can serve a brand better ultimately, although influencer marketing may be quicker to drive some immediate sales.  This is with the realization that our agency also offers influencer marketing programs, and I am a massive advocate and think they are incredibly powerful as well.  But different in what they each offer.

So why do I think one is ultimately better than the other?  It comes down to overall consumer perception, longevity of being seen, and star power. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the different benefits of Product Placement versus Influencer Marketing, and why one is a more strategic marketing practice.  The answers may surprise you!

Which Is Better Product Placement Versus Influencer Marketing

Product Placement And Influencer Marketing Can Work Together

Obviously brands absolutely have other marketing options beyond product placement and influencer marketing to engage with consumers via non-traditional advertising, and they should.  Our agency just happens to specialize in product placement, influencer marketing and celebrity partnerships where each can help to build legs to an overall campaign.  

Let's use one of the campaigns we built as an example.

We partnered Chinese mobile phone company OPPO with America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). What, you don't know who OPPO is?  Well at the time they were the #2 most popular phone in the world.  They just weren't sold in the United States.  And it may seem strange that we build a massive campaign for the brand leveraging US content - but our content is often seen globally where other country-specific content doesn't cross as many borders.  So in this case, the 175+ countries that aired ANTM were the target, not the US.

So what did the partnership look like?

  1. We received the standard ‘product placement’ as far as active usage in the series, but we also built out 2 custom challenges around the brand and the special attributes of the phone. 
  2. We then sponsored the premiere party for the TV season, and hired Tyra Banks as a celebrity endorsement partner to explain how to take the perfect selfie with an OPPO phone. 
  3. We also brought in social influencers to attend the premiere, participate in social posts to drive awareness (globally in fact, with different influencer ambassadors in various countries.)
  4. To further that, we worked with the production to build behind the scenes content, and created an online microsite which hosted the content plus offered a global sweepstakes as OPPO was targeting the show’s re-airing internationally in key Middle East, PAC-Asia, and Mexico. 
  5. We purchased digital media to compliment the partnership and drive awareness of the behind the scenes content produced by the production.
  6. To finalize that partnership, we sent the show winner and finalist on an international PR tour on behalf of the brand. 

It was a massive partnership developed based on the relationship we had with the TV show’s producer.  But actually, VERY affordable for the brand for the type of partnership and exposure they received.  And they reached hundreds of millions of people. 

Check out a little bit of the partnership in the videos below.

What Makes Product Placement Ultimately More Powerful Than Influencer Marketing

What product placement in a film or TV show can provide to a brand that other marketing channels just can’t match is LONGEVITY.  The life of a TV show or film is incredible.  It airs not just once, but multiple times. You aren’t paying for the exposure every single time.

Once you are baked in the programming – you are there for life.  Unless one of the newer technologies out there that is trying to disrupt the product placement marketplace by changing out brands in post-production manages to gain footholds. But that is a very long time in coming – if it ever happens at all due to rights holder issues, celebrities’ need to have approvals, directors not wanting their art to be changed, etc.   

When a film is in theaters in the US, it typically is released globally at the same time due to piracy issues.  It then has home entertainment releases scheduled, and then airplane, SVOD, cable and TV.  For a TV or SVOD series, once it is released in the US it either is going to be sold in syndication internationally, or released on a SVOD platform globally. 

I still see the Freightliner I did product placement for all the time airing with Seinfeld in The Frogger episode with Jason Alexander’s character George where he tries to keep his highest-ranking score on the video game, only to have it mowed down by a Freightliner as he runs the machine across the street.

Image result for frogger seinfeld

Once a property is released, it may be around for the next 10, 20 or 30 years – and brands that realize this have unbelievable brand awareness opportunities that will positively impact their brand for decades to come.  TV and film’s I worked on over 20 years ago are still airing today.

how your product placement program works

The Lifecycle Of An Influencer Post

The difference with an influencer? Well once that post is made, it starts traveling down their feed. And once that post is 6 lines or so down, no one is looking at it anymore. 

Plus, influencers are notorious for deleting their posts as soon as their contract allows – which is typically within 60 days. 

But that social post is super valuable in its own right.  Not only is it content created that is organic and real - which is going to get favor by consumers, it is content the brand (if they have negotiated their contracts right) should have access to.  Which means they can repost, share on digital and make their own customers and brand fans be exposed to the awesome content the influencer created.

Plus - there is also that nifty Instagram Story swipe up feature, or links on Facebook, that let that influencer's follower base easily check you out. And possibly make a purchase.

So a brand has the opportunity to be part of TV and film history – forever, or a just a blip with an influencer.  It’s the reverse of the adage – a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips – in the case of product placement, it’s worth taking the bite, as the exposure will stay with the brand, forever. An influencer post – once posted, gone tomorrow.

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So Is One Better Than The Other?

The answer to whether one is better than the other is a resounding.... NO!  They are different. And they can be complimentary as well.  

We love working with brands who hire us for both influencer marketing and product placement because we can create campaigns that enhance the other.  Product placement takes time.  A movie is going to shoot for 3 months, and then take 9 to 12 months to be released.  And a TV show will take a few months before going on air, with an SVOD series potentially taking the same length of time as a feature if they are going to shoot 10 episodes and then release them all at one time for that wonderful binge viewing experience.

That is a lot of waiting time for a brand who might not be very patient to have some sort of marketing going on.

And an influencer program can be an incredible compliment to a product placement campaign, with the influencers helping to highlight and bring to attention product placement in various productions, or helping to provide more awareness of a promotional partnership or sweepstakes. 

Option A Or Option B

Which one is better for you?  Product Placement or Influencer Marketing?  I hope you say both!  Because that is typically the best option.  In reality, there is no one sure-fire marketing strategy that is going to be the perfect fit for your brand.  And that is why you want to create a marketing mix.

Learn more about product placement with these blogs our team has written:

And learn more about social influencers with these blogs from our team as they will shed even more light on best practices to try out. 

You can also check out my podcast series and our other daily blog posts on entertainment and influencers insight and tips.

To get a better understanding of product placement, check out this e-book that provides an indepth guide to how it all works!

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide