Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
by Pamela Dixon

Product placement - clever or cringe?

At Denfield, we’re constantly coming up with new ideas and ways to get your brand seen, so we know that in a world where advertising is everywhere you look – from internet banners to branded office supplies – the way that brands try to sell their products has had to change rapidly. Product placement started as an easy and unobtrusive way for brands to get around the multitudes of people now able to fast-forward or skip advert breaks as they watch their favourite programmes, but as more people catch on to this technique, has the practice simply become embarrassing?

Context is the key for this kind of marketing; while many people react badly to obvious product placement within a TV programme or film, it has found success through other channels. More and more music videos are turning to ‘retroactive product placement’ – advertising that has been digitally inserted into pre-existing content, such as a billboard in place of a blank wall – as a means to generate extra income and has been met with a far more positive response than any other platform.

Music videos are in themselves a form of marketing, which means the people watching them are already open to the possibility of being sold a product. Advertising within the video, therefore, doesn’t need to work quite so hard to be subtle, and the brand gets noticed much more easily. Music videos are also thought of as a personal creation by the artist, meaning any placement within them is likely to be seen as a personal endorsement and inherently trustworthy.

When it comes to placements within films or TV programmes, however, the line between a success and a flop is very fine and relies on a number of different factors, such as acting quality, realism, and personality. The key to doing it well lies in placing a product seamlessly into your scene, making it a logical part of the scene rather than an obvious advert. Documentarian Morgan Spurlock used this as the basis for his 2011 film, ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’, which followed his journey to fund a movie entirely through product placement.

Regardless of whether it really works or not, product placement is certainly not going away anytime soon; we just hope that brands continue to be creative about how they place their products in the spotlight. At Denfield, we are always looking for interesting new ways to advertise, so if you’ve seen a great, or even terrible, example of product placement, we’d love to hear about it!