Why Product Placement Is A Highly Effective Marketing Tactic


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What Makes Product Placement So Special?

One of the questions I get most is: What makes product placement drive sales? Followed by a request for specific examples of how product placement has moved the needle for brands. Marketers want, need, and require the ability to ensure that the marketing tactics they invest in will work. I understand that as a business owner, every dime spent matters. Tremendously. 

So this week, I thought I'd shed light on some real-world case studies of how product placement programs are practical and highly efficient. I will go so far as daresay that product placement is the most efficient marketing tactic worldwide. There are very few marketing and advertising options where your investment actually lowers over time, inching ever closer to the magical number of 'almost nothing.' In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses the benefits of product placement programs and shares some successful case studies. 

Why Product Placement Is A Highly Effective Marketing Tactic - 10.5.22

Your Brand Stars On Screen - Forever

When a brand becomes part of a script, they are there for perpetuity. At least currently, before digital removal and addition of brands becomes the norm - and we are far from that happening to the level that it will impact you right now. That is the direction product placement, at least so far as set items that can be dropped into a scene is going. It is several digital companies' goal to make it a norm that you purchase advertising around a production with a digitally inserted brand drop-in that can be rotated out on a paid basis.  

Right now, the only options are really limited test case scenarios with minimal programming options. The most significant hold-up there to the advancement of digital post-production product placement is a rights holder issue, as well as actors having the ability to often say what brand they will - or won't - be associated with.  I'll chat with you about my viewpoint later.

That means when the content airs the first time, let's say, on a prime-time broadcast or cable network, it gets the viewers who see that episode that first night - as well as the delayed viewers that Nielsen reports on up to 7 days after. Then add in any repeat episodes. Many first airings get aired multiple times by the network in fringe or late night, especially on cable platforms.


The production is later aired on-demand, sent to international markets, aired on airplanes and in hotel rooms, and even syndicated to run in rotation for years to come. Shows that make it over 4 seasons airing at least 65 -100 episodes enter what is called off-network syndication, where it's run on various TV networks worldwide, all through licensed partnerships. Or it might go to a streaming platform to live for a while with all of its episodes in one place, becoming popular again - as many series have on Netflix, including Arrested Development, The Office, and Friends - all getting a true second lifestyle and an entirely new generation of fans.

Movies have equally long lifecycles where once they've come out theatrically, they will go into a home entertainment window with pay-per-view, on-demand, airline, hotel, cable, and eventually television airings with commercials breaking apart the hour-odd long content. Some movies and franchises are so popular that they become a must-view around holidays - even if they are not holiday themed, like Harry Potter.  

Millions - And Millions - Of Views 

We see TV series that initially reached an audience of under 2 million reaching several hundred million in their lifetime - regularly. Movies often will reach 20 to 30 million people initially, and then they too reach into the hundreds of millions of consumers watching not just this year, but the next, and the next too. That's one of the reasons we so LOVE to tell our clients to do holiday movies starring top-tier talent, as those films are (almost) guaranteed to become part of pop culture forever. Just think of how many times you've seen Elf by now. As in - it at least is available every Christmas.

There are TWO AWESOME Christmas movies we are working on for clients right now if you want to jump in on the fun and awesome exposure! Like REALLY awesome movies - seriously, reach out to us if you have an interest.

Don't forget pirated viewing as well - as those illegally watched streams of released content can rack up millions of unreported views too.  

When we've run studies on films that do decently well at the box office, or TV series and popular streaming series, we've found that they may get 15x or higher viewers to watch after the initial air date, especially when you consider the global footprint. The ROI is so high, and the overall investment so incredibly low, that it causes most marketers to think that the metrics must have a few accidental extra zeros. Nope, it is legit.

That means tens of millions of fans - and quite frankly, a lot more - have the opportunity to see your brand in the hand of their favorite stars or directly alongside them, which is incredibly powerful.

Product Placement

Photo Credit: Medium | Delaney Jobe

Super Low Cost Across The Lifetime Of The Exposure

Remember that comprehensive product placement programs with specialist agencies like Hollywood Branded for an ENTIRE YEAR can cost LESS than one single 30-second ad to 3 ads or so, depending on your brand category and overall Hollywood footprint being built by placement and added seeding and sampling, to run in the first place. Seriously.

Imagine cutting one ad from your planned media and getting hundreds of millions of eyeballs as a result. ONE AD. Repeat. One single solitary little tiny ad that you really won't miss. Instead of the paltry 1 to 8 million (ish - most shows on TV don't perform that well) reach of a single prime time run ad you might get if you are very lucky being run in popular content.

I'm not advocating getting rid of media and advertising. Product placement, when run with media, performs so well that we encourage our clients to run media around the partnerships we build as the viewer at home is taken to an even higher level of brand awareness when that happens. A lot of our clients are actually media agencies, as we are able to open doors to opportunities they just don't have the boots on the ground to know about.

We have some clients who see so much major success that all of our programs are built for them with the ability to run media, or to expand into a co-promotion to get that extra frequency and attention.

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CPMs Help You Know How Much You Are Spending

When you run an ad, you are purchasing against a cost-per-thousand basis. That means, for every 1,000 viewers, you know you are spending $10, $25, or $50+ to reach that audience base. That's what is known as a CPM. It is tricky, right?!? You think M is millions - but thanks to Latin and Roman times, M is for thousand.  It's one of my favorite questions to ask interns and new team members - "what does the M stand for." It's a little thing that then makes so much sense.

CPMs are how the ad world creates a standard measuring stick so you can figure out an apples-to-apples approach and quantification of funds being spent. If you pay X for this marketing tactic to reach 1,000 viewers, then with a CPM, you can see a direct correlation of how many eyeballs you will reach compared to if you pay Y to reach 1,000 viewers. 

CPM formula

Photo Credit: IronSource | is.com

Product Placement Puts Any CPM To Shame

Considering that product placement allows you to surpass single ad limitations, you start understanding this marketing tactic's power. The campaigns we build deliver massive impact for a fraction of the cost of other marketing methods (TV, radio, PR, print, out-of-home, digital, etc.) by ensuring the branded content we produce keeps on working for you in the years to come - far past a single ad unit. That results in CPMs being driven down to pennies on the dollars - with some comprehensive product placement programs netting out below a quarter (what in this entire world can you buy today with a quarter!?!)

Case Studies For You To Get The Big Picture

Here are some specific examples of work we have done and the resulting CPMs the program has delivered.

FACT: We built a comprehensive 10-year ongoing campaign for BlackBerry, reaching over 6.5 billion first-run impressions – not including years of re-airings, for a CPM of $0.18… see case study

FACT: We drove 4.7% annual growth for Canadian Club after 17 years of declining sales by making it Don Draper's drink of choice in Mad Men, reaching over 300 million series viewers for under $0.60 CPM… watch case study

FACT: We secured 115% more fan Tweets about Bumble on Riverdale during two storyline integration airings that resulted in over 117 million views and a CPM of under $3.00… watch case study

FACT: We negotiated 710 visual and 103 verbal mentions resulting in 3 hours of on-screen storyline inclusion for B2B thermal camera FLIR. The campaign delivered 220 million impressions yearly for a $0.32 average CPM for six years with a value of $42 million for first airing only… see case study

FACT: We secured 197 visual and 29 verbal mentions for regional franchise brand Coffee Beanery over 8 years, resulting in over 1.2 billion views and a CPM of $0.37… see case study

Brand Integrations Deliver In A Big Way Too

A deeply embedded storyline build-out of a brand will be a bit different, as that is what we call a brand integration - and in those cases, that single integration will cost the equivalent of a prime-time ad or a few bundled together. 

Stranger Things Eggos Brand Integration

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix | Stranger Things Season 1

But it will perform like nothing you have ever experienced and get your brand in all corners of the world, as will a comprehensive product placement program. Hollywood content travels overseas to every country.  Yes, you may have a brand only in the US and not care about international success. Right now.  But in 5 or 10 years, as you grow your brand, wouldn't you like to have had awareness already begun to be established from the marketing efforts you invested in previously? Just in case you one day go global... and it is not like it costs you anything extra. :)

Or, if you are a super savvy marketer, you can do what we do with our clients and specifically build programs meant to impact an international and a US audience. We even have clients who don't care about the US and use product placement and brand integration to drive sales in foreign markets ranging from Korea to Dubai or Brazil or France - and beyond. We can get very specific on what series and films make sense to reach the core demo and locale of the brand's favor, thanks to the databases we have built and subscribe to.

Brand Reported Sales Success

So ready for some more stats?  These brands all won big - and I'm sure they are product placements you are likely familiar with.

  • Ray-Ban Sunglasses (Risky Business) - 55% sales increase
  • Reese's Pieces (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) - 65% sales increase
  • Etch-a-Sketch (Toy Story) - 4,000% sales increase
  • American Museum of Natural History (Night at the Museum) - 20% increase in attendance in 10 days following the film's release.
  • Red Stripe Jamaican Lager (The Firm) - 50% sales increase in 12 months.
  • Aviator Sunglasses (Top Gun) - 40% sales increase in 7 months.
  • BMW Minis (The Italian Job) - 22% sales increase.
  • Blackstone Pinot Noir (Sideways) - 150% sales increase in 6 months.

Each of these brands has one thing in common. They either actively pursued themselves, got super lucky by a random call by Spielberg's team, or hired agencies to help them maneuver Hollywood, to get their brand introduced to the right people on set, who helped make them even cooler than they were to start with. Product placement is about becoming cool. You get a star's thumbs up, along with a director, producers, a movie studio/network, and more. Your brand becomes approved by the stars, which makes it a star too. That's what product placement does. It builds brand clout and makes your brand cool for your intended target audience.

You can wait on the sidelines and hope your phone will ring with the next blockbuster opportunity to have your brand star alongside a mega cast - or you can proactively get started building your brand rep and leveraging the power of Hollywood. My team is always here to help!

Eager To Learn More?

Now that you’ve learned all about the high effectiveness of product placements, check out some of our other blogs to dive deeper into the entertainment industry.

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