Sunday, January 24, 2010

Product Placement: Smart Advertising

What is product placement?

Though many definitions circulate as to exactly what product placement is, the one used in Issues in American Advertising by Reichert explains it perfectly as, “the purposeful incorporation of a brand into an entertainment vehicle.” It is the popular belief of many that product placement is causing a blur between entertainment and advertising and while I do agree that advertising has in the past few years generated clutter and permeates our world way too much a lot of the time, I do not believe that product placement is entirely wrong, nor that it influences my tastes in any significant way that I am angry about.

In class, we learned that soap operas are so called because originally soap brands were their main sponsors. As a result of their sponsorship, brands of soap would get the program’s hour named after them, i.e. “The Zest Hour,” or something of that sort – much like today’s, “This program is brought to you by L’Oreal Two-in-One Mascara” (or something similar). Though these examples are much more obvious forms of advertising, it is my belief that product placement is much of the same thing. If you see a character in a film or television show drinking Coke, it is safe to assume that Coke has provided financial support in exchange for their use of the product – much like athletes who wear a particular brand of shoe or clothing because the company pays them to be a spokesperson.

All in all, I think that product placement is a good thing because traditional advertising doesn’t really work that well anymore because people are better at ignoring it. People will always watch TV and films. If companies are displaying their products within entertainment, no message accompanies the placement and, therefore, it is less invasive and if it generates a response from a consumer, that response is more likely to be positive because placement does not equal persuasion.

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