Product placement has become to video what social media is to media. It is intrinsic to its fabric. It has become second nature. It has become indiscernible. And that is why I continue to enjoy observing and calling out the placements I spot. Here is my third installment. (Stay tuned for more.)
Colbert and Wheat Thins: Colbert coins the term “Sponsortunity” on an episode in which he reads at length from the branding memo for “Wheat Thins” that only someone in brand management could have written. A real treat and must-see for those in marketing.
Diet Coke: Diet Coke seems to have used product placement in its own ad (“Not All Stars Appear On Screen”) during the Oscars. The commercial shows the evolution of a film from script to production with cameo appearances by Diet Coke cans, e.g., in the hands of the writers and those producing the film and placed on the shelves of the door to the sound stage.
Apple: I find it so interesting to see which programs use Apple computers but cover up the otherwise highly visible Apple on the back of each device. Example: Two and a Half Men. Clearly, the producers like the aesthetic and how it fits with Ashton’s character, but, I guess they did not strike a deal with Apple, so they cover up the fruit. Other shows go all the way – do they get paid for that? In Showtime’s “House of Lies,” the consultants use Lenovo Think Pads. I would expect no less (and it makes me cringe a little when I think back to my pre-Mac years).
I can’t help it! When I’m watching “The Big Bang Theory,” and Leonard’s “Mom” holds her soda can just a little too long and a little too high, and the can remains visible for 5 minutes of the show, then it must be a product placement. It’s a bit of a game, a bit of an art to spot, so I’m reopening my log of potential spottings. I hope you’ll join me. (See also part I of this compilation: “Spot the Placement; Place the Spot”)
How I Met Your Mother – Ted has already used Bing (the search engine) twice before the first commercial break. Once to look up the route from their bar to a steakhouse where Woody Allen is eating and then to look up the website where people rate their professors. (October 11, 2010)
Big Bang Theory – Fresca, Fanta, Fiji Water– in the lunchroom at work – all other beverages have no labels; Fiji water especially well placed – full on label exposure.However, watching episodes a year after I wrote this bullet, it seems that the product placement was there when the episode was new but not for repeats. Is that possible (see below)
America’s Got Talent, June 22-ish, 2010 – Filmed at Universal Theme Park in Orlando. As with Ugly Betty below, lots of opportunities for shameless promotion and touring of the park, e.g., the host on the rollercoaster or next to the Jaws shark.
Reality shows are fantastic venues for product integration. The book “Buyology” has some great examples, however, about how brands can overshadow each other in programs like “American Idol.”
Rules of Engagement, June 7th, 2010 – Kiehl’s moisturizer on Audrey’s nightstand. Could be for character definition. In any case, awfully prominent, as in the only thing on the nightstand, just inside the shot and positioned so that you could read the label.
What do you think? Is Kiehl’s helping to define Audrey’s character, or is CBS helping to promote Kiehl’s?
Colbert Report, June 8th, 2010 – Colbert wearing a lab coat with a big Lexus logo on the back during piece about Consumer Reports.
Colbert Report, June 7th, 2010 – Microsoft’s Bing search engine agreed to donate $2,500 to a charity of Stephen’s choice every time he said the word, “bing.” The show raised $100,000 for the Gulf of America Fund.
Ugly Betty and the Atlantis Paradise Island resort – the December 4th episode was one long, albeit beautiful, advertorial for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, interrupted only by, well, ads for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. There was even an entire scene designed around the famous water slide. If it weren’t for the MEMORABLE footage of the dastardly but oh so hot Connor Owens wearing minimal wardrobe, it might have been too much. Ugly Betty is a great vehicle for brand integration. And I understand that the Latin American version, which takes place in an advertising agency, milks the product placement cow even more completely.
Big Bang Theory, September 21, 2009 – new Diet Pepsi can – 3rd act of “Big Bang Theory.” The can is – for me – one of five characters in the scene.
Big Bang Theory, September 22, 2011. Interesting to me that they drink Fiji water in the cafeteria but always have it facing the other way.
Millionaire Matchmaker: 2011 NYC season – interesting interstitial in which she goes on a shoe shopping binge at Jeffreys. Seemed natural at first; then it made me wonder. She likes dropping names. She went with her stylus/make up artist friend. I suspect she was promoting her as well. Reality TV – the advertising gods gift to brand integration.
Chips Ahoy cookies in the new Planet of the Apes film. A key plot element. (September 30, 2011)
Boardwalk Empire – Canadian Club. I saw a beautifully done window “billboard” on the glass of Beacon Liquor next to the Beacon Theater – has the appearance of being etched into the glass. (October 1, 2011) Arresting – at least to me – and despite unfortunate placement of window pane. However, evidentially controversial:Through a marketing partnership with Canadian Club, which HBO calls “a brand authentic to the period,” the pay-TV network has been placing Boardwalk Empire displays and window signs in some real-world liquor stores and wine shops. The campaign also includes bar events, such as re-created speakeasies featuring a special cocktail menu. According to HBO Vice President of Brand Marketing Chris Spadaccini, the in-store displays feature crates of liquor with Canadian Club product and branding for the show. Some liquor store signs for the series have the appearance of being etched into the window glass.”Window displays are essentially street-level billboards, so these types of advertisements are helpful in reaching a broad audience,” Spadaccini said in an email about the ad campaign.But that approach — using liquor stores to target a wide range of consumers — marks what’s wrong with the campaign, according to David Jernigan, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. “These are sources that children pass on the way to school. They can’t be turned off,” Jernigan says of the window displays, adding this campaign marks the first time he’s heard of a TV show advertising in liquor-store windows”See full article from DailyFinance:http://srph.it/hvwAiE
Yes… but they’re not showing alcohol in the displays, just club soda. Thoughts?
Glee and the Gap: The Feb. 8 episode of “Glee” had an extensive musical scene set in a Gap store
Revenge TV Show promoting itself within bars and restaurants in the Hamptons – where the program is set
I don’t believe that premium channels like Showtime sell product placement opportunities. However, if they did, I would spot a lot – including Dexter’s altercation with a Nescafe coffee machine. (Is Nescafe still around?)
Colbert, Colbert, Colbert. He is the king of product placement.