Manet’s painting, A Bar at the Folies-Berere, featuring two bottles with a distinctive label and shape which allowed them to be identified as Bass beer, was perhaps the first example of (inadvertent?) product placement. Today, the concept has evolved to experience-focused propositions designed to enhance the viewing experience. Not only has product placement come a long way, it is evolving.
- Evolving Opportunities
Product placement no longer serves as just a prop to create a more realistic drama. Rather, it has become more about bespoke deals that mix continuous on-screen exposure with tactical multichannel brand executions.
Michelle Storey from Tradeway suggests that a big part of this shift has been driven by producers who are increasingly getting in touch with commercial opportunities. “You can be brave with the product placement”, she says “as long as you can keep it feeling natural within the scene and dialogue”.
Tradeway’s Greg Martin says a good idea is to run product placement in TV shows and soaps that generate trust in the general public. Reality TV also renders opportunities for clever product placement. One can show the contestants experiencing the products and services directly. You want to enhance the viewing experience – the last thing you want to do is put any viewers off. Your goal is to create even more brand loyalty in existing customers. Likewise, you want to motivate “virgin” consumers to want to rush out and buy your product or service. An experienced partner like Tradeway will be able to advise you on the finer nuances and tricks of the trade.
- Progressive Relationships
In line with the changes in TV formats and brand objectives, the nature of the product placement relationship should progress. A very interesting illustration of this “progression” was when Visa placed, not a product or a brand, but a behaviour. They wanted to increase the knowledge and adoption of Visa contactless payments outside of London and thus showed the characters in Coronation Street and Emmerdale using contactless transactions as a way of normalising the behaviour. Two and a half years later, and Visa now specifically wants to target young consumers. The campaign has therefore now been moved from a soapie to a reality show, TOWIE, which is filmed only a couple of days before each show. The aim is to evolve the message to show mobile payment methods being used outside traditional retail environments.
- Jumping on a Trend
Finding your products featured on one of the biggest shows of the year presents a real opportunity for any brand. Likewise, utilizing current affairs, political blunders, and the occasional faux pas by celebrities can present opportunities to jump on the bandwagon. Think Nando’s and they’re, often, politically incorrect advertisements that pop-up, to perhaps equal portions of rather spicy despair and saucy humour, depending of course whose corner you are in.