The delicate art of product placement

Product placement is the inclusion of a branded product in media, usually without explicit reference to the product. Most commonly, branded products are featured in movies, television shows and video games. The practice is considered a type of pull marketing, designed to increase consumer awareness of the brand and product and strengthen demand. A company will often pay a fee to have their product used, displayed, or significantly featured in a movie or show

The latest trend in advertising is to make it, well, less advertorial. The tendency is to move away from in-your-face ads, where the product is the star, to mini-movies­ or quasi-documentary vignettes that feature “real-life scenarios” with the product(s) hovering in the background. Some would argue it’s a sort of “art imitating art imitating life” scenario — where ads are imitating the practice.

For example, Coca-Cola could pay a given fee to have the title character drinking a Coke, instead of a Pepsi beverage, or Toyota might pay to have one of the characters drive their newest automobile.

Through product placement, companies hope that moviegoers will take note of the products used by the characters, and therefore think more strongly about using the products themselves. Some people consider product placement to be deceptive and unethical.

In laymen’s terms, product placement is the promotion of branded goods and services within the context of a show or movie (or even personal videos) rather than as an explicit advertisement. When you see a product or service appear in a TV show, or in a motion picture, the company behind it has usually (but not always) paid for their brand to appear on screen or on the radio.

Also known as embedded marketing or advertising, the practice has been around for decades, but marketers have become much more sophisticated in the ways they use it. Once a very obvious form of sponsorship, product placement can now fly under the radar. You may barely notice that every single car used in the movie or show was from only one automaker. Or that everyone in a TV show drinks the same brand of soda.Overall, product placement it here to stay. If done well, it adds realism to a show or movie, because we all use these products in our daily lives.