Why Is Organic Product Placement Better?
Our team loves data, research and stats - and when we can't find answers to questions our clients and potential clients ask, we'll take it to the next level and run a survey ourselves. One of the questions we are asked the most about is what case studies we have - literal proof is in the pudding that product placement works.
And one of the survey factoids that has continuously been brought to light is that the majority of consumers far prefer branded content to more traditional forms of advertising. That's not to say that all ads are not good advertising tools - but ads that haven't been crafted to be stories to themselves aren't typically as well received as product placement organically embedded into the content that viewers enjoy. Basically, people aren't that interested in being clunked over the head by brands trying to shout their messaging from the roof tops. Imagine that. In our blog, Hollywood Branded shares our infographic on organic product placement, stats from our product placement survey, and provides detail to the types of product placement available for brand partnerships.
So that survey I was telling you about? We wanted to find out what the best entertainment marketing strategies used by brands and agencies are and how receptive consumers are to these strategies. With no surprise, the survey yielded the result that consumers find high importance in keeping product placement and brand integration exposure as organic and natural as possible.
And when I say organic - that doesn't mean that the brand doesn't stand out within the content it is embedded in. Nor does it mean that the brand has to stoically sit there, with no messaging surrounding it. Rather, it means that the brand needs to be an authentic fit to the content that it becomes woven into, be realistic, and needs to have a purpose, or even solve a problem that the characters are faced with. In fact, the brands that do the best with product placement are those very same brand categories that we use in our everyday lives. The beverages we drink, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the electronics we use - if they are realistically used in your life, then it is all the easier to replicate those brands on screen to live as real life brands in those fictional stories.
All this is not to say that other types of brands that aren't holdable or moveable products don't have a chance on screen. In fact, companies that are services have tremendous branding opportunities through signage or heightened storyline placement. A great example of this is in the case we recently experienced with an app - which require a lot more massaging of a script, but as long as the solution they solve is used realistically, they can have tremendous on screen presence. In our case, we built the partnership with the dating and relationships app, Bumble with Candace Bergen's single-and-no-longer loving it character in the movie Book Club. Bumble worked perfectly because it provided a realistic solution to a storyline problem that needed to be solved - which was how to tell the back-to-dating story of Bergen's character in today's world of online love.
Want to see what I'm talking about? Check out our case study on Bumble and Book Club before you keep reading... and that, by the way, is the SHORT version. There was even more shown on screen.
So What Brands Work For Product Placement?
We've done partnerships for roofing company GAF, where we built a roof for two of the lead reality stars of Duck Dynasty that worked - they needed a new roof, and the storyline worked. More recently, we just created a partnership with Dwayne Johnson's Rampage where our client FLIR had their thermal imaging camera - and branding - interwoven into the script as the technology provided the filmmakers a cool way to show a dinosaur sized marauding alligator taking on the military. FLIR also was interwoven into the films Sicario and Sicario 2: Day of Soldado where the technology was used in the first film as the director wanted cameras that could film an entire scene in a dark tunnel in thermal imaging from the point of view of the DEA Agent. FLIR had the perfect tool to provide that solution. The camera needed to film the scene not only had a high cost associated with it, but also needed a FLIR camera operator on hand for training. The scene was brilliant and solved a major issue - how to film in the dark and bring the audiences into truly experiencing a fictitious world that is realistic to true border agents every day. And when Day of Soldado filmed, we were back with FLIR again - even though it was a new director, as the thermal camera technology was now used in a scene where it hung from the underbelly of a helicopter, showing a rush of people crossing border in the dead of night.
Check out more behind the scenes dirt in this blog on how we got the Soldado partnership to be built in the first place.
Over the years, I've done product placement with long list of film and television from Ben & Jerry's being eaten by Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser on Mad About You - with Ira coming up stairs from the street and asking why one of them would have ever tossed out the chunky monkey to the street below - as he ate from the container. With AM General Hummers driven by John Travolta and Nicholas Cage racing down runways in Face Off. The massive freeway scene in Matrix 3 where one of the major climaxes of the movie happened while having 13 different Freightliner tractors being driven, with stunts taking place on top of them. To George Clooney's favored mobile phone being BlackBerry in almost every film he shot for almost a decade. Luxury brand Montblanc sold out their newly released Boheme pen after I placed it in Sweet Home Alabama. And Capital One played a role as the grantor of a giant check branded and held in the hands of Patrick Dempsey in the same movie.
Everything from cars, supplements, TV's, purses, medical equipment, slippers. and speakers have all played some role on a TV or film screen - whether as a prop or as major part of the storyline. We made Coffee Beanery's retail franchise become the first real job where Jimmy worked on Shameless. We also made Canadian Club Don Draper's drink of choice in Mad Men. Back in the day of ER, I oversaw the entire set being hard wired to make Nortel Networks phones ring from one set to another. The list of brand potentials goes on and on to cover cover almost every brand category. The reason all of these brands work is that identifiable products lend themselves to real life scenarios on screen.
Check out our case study on Pilot Pen and Project Runway too while you are here...
The Types Of Product Placement
So what ARE the types of product placement available? It's pretty simple really. There are three main types of placements, which are visual, verbal and signage.
- Visual placement is recognizing the product and the brand’s logo clearly while it’s on-screen.
- Verbal placement is when a character mentions the brand by name or discusses the product's characteristics.
- Signage placement is when the actual product is not on-screen, but an ad or branded item is clearly visible.
And really, that's it. Super simple, right? Some verbal placement is much more detailed, bringing in marketing points about the brand, or actually crafting an entire storyline around the product placement exposure, or an official partnership - like the one we built for Pilot Pen. In Project Runway, the brand's eraseable FriXion pen become the official pen of the series - a partnership that was absolutely organic and realistic, as the designers benefited greatly from being able to draw their designs, and actually erase their mistakes.
We just had a GREAT partnership for FLIR in the TV show Ozark, where what started as a simple product placement, with our client's FLIR thermal camera having an opportunity to be a set piece on a boat, to having the entire storyline evolve into making the brand an actual secondary storyline, as two of the main characters set off across the lake to steal the camera - only to run into some hurdles along the way.
Optimizing Your Product Placement Opportunity
As an agency, we follow our own advice when working on client campaigns, and there are six key factors to keep in mind when you are building a brand partnership into content.
- Brand categories should be mindful of how and where they will most naturally be on a set in a scene, and it should mirror real world usage.
- Keep the placement natural and work with the writers and directors to make the exposure appear as seamless as possible.
- Create presence in Hollywood and help consumers keep you top of mind by participating in dozens of appropriate placement opportunities across numerous productions versus just a single dip of your toe in Hollywood. Repetition, just as with any other advertising medium, is the key.
- Think about how your product will be used to achieve organic placement. It needs to appear real!
- Always remember to utilize social media to capitalize on the exposure. Bring the placement to life on a 3rd screen and start (and engage) consumer conversation.
- If you can find a way to bring that partnership to life off screen - into your brand's advertising, or at retail... do it! You've just built a powerhouse of a marketing tool if you do so.
What Marketers Need To Know
Utilizing the tactics outlined in our handy infographic will help you better boost brand recognition and increase sales of your products. When creating a product placement strategy, think about how the product can be used to create a natural integration with the story line. The more organic, the better!
The survey showcases that the majority of consumers feel positively toward Product Placement calling it "Beneficial, Organic or Informative." And of the 49% who did not state they had a positive association, only 6.5% found it to be annoying or disruptive. From this, realize that as a brand, you are not going to offend the majority of your consumer base, and in fact are more likely to engage consumers.
Read our blog 5 Ways Brand Marketers Secure Product Placement To Increase Sales and check out these blogs on product placement as well:
- 3 Reasons Why Productions Use Product Placement
- Product Placement Case Study: How A Brand Partnership Happens
- 4 Common Myths About Product Placement Debunked
- 10 Surprising Reasons Why Brands Do Product Placement
- 8 Ways To Use Product Placement Assets To Amplify Your Brand Into Sales
- 3 Important Steps In Planning Product Placement Strategy
- Thinking Product Placement Cost Is High (It Isn't!)
Read more about entertainment marketing sales success here in some case studies from top films you've likely seen. And if you are curious to see more from our survey, then download the 2015 survey results here: