Product Placement: Not Your Typical Television Ad

Product Placement: Not Your Typical Television Ad

There's a gold mine in blending products into scripts and movie plots. Here's what you need to know.

Remember a day when brands weren’t evident in movies and shows? If an actor held a beverage, it was labeled “Cola.”

Times have definitely changed. Producers and advertisers found a gold mine in blending products into scripts and movie plots—making them appear part of the show.

This is known as product placement.

Product Placement: A Definition

Wikipedia defines product placement as “a form of advertisement, where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies, music videos, the story line of television shows, or news programs.”

When done correctly, this benefits both parties: Producers get funding and advertisers get endorsements to large audiences from their favorite characters—and the advertiser didn’t even have to create an ad.

Case Studies: Successful Stories

The 2009 blockbuster “The Blind Side” featured product placement throughout the film. Try to count the number of times the Under Armour logo appears. The famous athletic brand was visible for nearly six minutes. Are the words “Under Armour” mentioned once during the movie? No. Is athletic clothing even a topic of discussion? No. Instead, the company placed its logo on the team’s football uniforms and the clothing of the family’s younger son, tying the brand to the emotional story of a boy’s coming of age and to intense, victorious football scenes—perfect platforms for reaching the brand’s target audiences.

Ray-Ban products have made many appearances in films over the years. Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer sunglasses were on the verge of extinction in the early ‘80s, but after Tom Cruise sported the shades in “Risky Business,” the company sold more than 360,000 pairs. Ray-Ban tried product placement again a few years later in “Top Gun,” having the same actor wear its Aviator product. The film became the highest grossing movie of 1986 and boosted Ray-Ban’s Aviator sales by 40 percent.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Product Placement

Considering product placement for brand exposure? Let’s go over a few tips to maximize your efforts:

  • Target. Although one of the main benefits of product placement is maximum exposure, you still need to target the right audience. Under Armour featured its brand in a movie based on the life of an NFL player, connecting with fans, athletes, and fitness-wear fanatics. Smart decision.
  • Brainstorm. Producers can weave your brand into their plot. Help producers brainstorm concepts that give your brand a role.
  • Align. Ensure the content resonates with your target audience and align your brand with the talent. Ray-Ban aligned its high-end sunglasses with popular films and an attractive, successful actor without any celebrity endorsements. Brilliant.
  • Time it. Product placement is time sensitive. You’ll generate more buzz if you feature a new product over something the audience has seen before. The audience sees actors using something, and then, a week later, it appears in stores. They’ll be more receptive.
  • Don’t be obvious. Remember that product placement is not traditional advertising. Your brand or product should be so well tied into the story line that the viewer doesn’t realize that you put it there on purpose.

Before focusing on product placement as a tactic, make sure it fits in with your marketing strategy. Don't have one of those? Call FrogDog today!

Image courtesy of ImageryMajestic/

Posted: Oct 30, 2012
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
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