With all the speculation around product placement triggered by Ben Bradshaws speech to the RTS I thought it worth digging up some of my old posts on the topic.
My main thought though is that it won't be ITV or the other broadcasters who gain the most benefit - it will be the programme producers. They make the programmes and are closest to the opportunities for brand integration - they also increasingly recognise the value of their IP.
I can't see the smart people at Endemol, RDF or Kudos meekly handing over either the control needed to make this work - or the revenue.
Product Placement - part of the solution or part of the problem?
As Ofcom hints that product placement may become more acceptable in the UK we're seeing some talk in the US of tighter regulations. Product placement is well established there - with shows like American Idol including over 400 commercial messages! - and a large proportion of advertisers using it as a marketing tactic.
"There is nothing inherently wrong with product placement – so long as it is disclosed as required by law.
Disclosures should also be meaningful. A disclosure that appears on screen for a split second
during the credits in small type that no one could possibly read without pausing their DVR-- and
pulling out a magnifying glass—could not possibly qualify"
Remember the old saying - if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem? We think consumers have issues with gratuitous use of product placement and it contributes to the general disillusionment with advertising.
I ran a very early product placement for Kenco Coffee in the early 90s - as an example of what could be done we had the new packaging featured in Coronation Street - Alf Roberts held the jar clearly as he chatted in the corner shop for around 50 seconds. It was very impressive but we couldn't see any real commercial value. At around the same time we proposed the use to Nintendo in a pitch - we'd pay for placement of the latest console in the episodes of Neighbours that would be shown in the run up to Christmas here in the UK. (Product placement is legal in Australia). We didn't win the pitch, so it never happened.
Ten years on we think there is a place for product placement but there are now smarter ways to engage with customers on TV; smart use of iTV will do a lot more for a brand as would exploration of ad funded programming. A conference in the US this week talked about some of the opportunities but makes the point that branded entertainment must resonate with consumers to be effective.
Product Placement - ready for prime time?
Product placement got lots of coverage in the press this weekend.The Sunday Times told their readers what we all knew - that spending with the right middleman can get your product just about anywhere on the BBC (and the rest of UK TV as well). Suitably outraged, the BBC have announced an enquiry!
Peter Bazalgette the head of Big Brother production company Endemol wrote just a few days ago that product placement is the only way to save TV - pointing out that PVRs will erode the traditional ad spend. And John Pluthero, the former boss of Freeserve stirred up the RTS conference this week;
TV is under threat like never before, as viewer behaviour changes, he said. 'Accept it, [remould] your business to suit, or die on your arse
Citing the impact of technology, Pluthoro suggests TV companies should embrace product placement and work with advertisers to create content.
As we've noted before product placement isn't new and it isn't that clever. But we have seen some interesting new evidence that shows just how well it can work - take a look at this chart looking at the Coke involvement in American Idol - from a presentation at MIP by Simon Spalding of Fremantle. Coke recognition was significantly higher within the show - where Coke had extensive product placement - than in other shows.
Given this sort of evidence - and the threat of PVRs we expect product placement to continue to grow. But with guidance from OFCOM due - and with calls for clearer labeling growing - we expect it to work on a rather more strategic level than the examples the Sunday Times discovered.
Original post (from September 2005) with working links here