Thursday, April 26, 2007

That’s a Wrap People!

It’s been a long and interesting run this semester but it’s time to wrap up all of the product placement we’ve encountered and discussed the past couple months. Two months seems so short but think about all of the things we’ve discovered. I guess it just goes to show how much product placement is evolving and how effective marketers are finally realizing it is.

Ofcourse, I had to keep everyone up to date on my favorite shows because this is where I most readily spot placements. I started off with the Real Housewives, which I must sadly say has ended its season. In it, we found many luxury and high-end items from Range Rovers to Tiffany diamonds… surprise surprise. Another reality show, which I have recently discussed, was MTV’s Inferno 3 which had only a few but quite relevant and prominent product placement of both T-Mobile and Schwinn gas scooters. I also found that cooking shows are a product placement heaven. Both Take Home Chef and Rachel Ray’s talk show featured several brand named food items. My favorites, ofcourse, were the prime time dramas and comedies. What can I say, I’m the typical college girl. I loved spotting brands in the Black Donnelly’s (which was cancelled too soon if you ask me), Desperate Housewives and HBO’s Entourage. I must say Desperate had the most effective PP by associating each main housewife with their car. In the episode I commented on, Bree and her family were shown many times driving her Chrysler 300C. A few movies were also worth mentioning, particularly Premonition and Blades of Glory who featured some more service-oriented brands such as Nationwide Insurance and Orbitz online travel assistant, respectively.

Lucky for me, this semester landed smack in the middle of the award season. Both the Grammy’s and the Oscars had very little product placement. This is a shame because with the Hollywood presence and celebrity appeal, many high-end brands would have fit beautifully within the star-struck guests.

Another major point that I liked to touch upon were the recent trends surrounding product placement. The one I mentioned like a broken record was ofcourse DVR: my love of it, and the need for more integrated marketing such as product placement because of it. Then there was reverse product placement like Bubba Gump shrimp from Forrest Gump and Wonka candy which began as brands within the movie and soon enough became real brands. Also, Nielsen launched their new PP ratings system, and companies like VideoAnalytica are developing technologies for “dynamic product placement” which will allow marketers and content owners to switch brands in certain placement slots. Video games have become a popular vehicle for product placement, especially to reach the young adult male market. Companies like Ford, Nike, T-Mobile and Jeep have begun utilizing in-game product placement.

Suggestions and forecast also seemed to become a theme of this blog with posts such as the one about the new iPhone and the possibilities for placements. Also, within my product placement spotting and analyzing I seemed to find and relay many instances that would have been perfect for certain brands. Such neglected opportunities should be given a second look by marketers.

Aside from my own active observations and analysis, certain publications such as Mediaweek and Brandweek helped to keep me up to date on all that is product placement these days. Other sources of PP news were the recently discovered and the creatively named Product Placement News.

Finally, we’ve discovered companies like 1st Approach who work as a kind of third party to brands and marketers to help place their products in the most innovative and effective vehicles. If PP keeps up at this pace, companies like 1st Approach might have their work cut out for them in the near future. Clearly, product placement is only getting bigger and in all directions. It has become almost necessary and as marketers realize this I can guarantee we will be seeing more it in our favorite shows. So keep a lookout… where it is, how it’s evolving, and who’s using it. For those of us who are thinking about getting into the marketing field this is a must!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Check Out Some HOT Product Placement on MTV’s Inferno 3

Once again, I’m back to reality shows for spotting some good product placement. This time it’s one that appeals to a younger generation, which is actually kind of perfect. The show is MTV’s Inferno 3 which is competition between two teams comprised of past members of MTV’s the Real World and Road Rules shows. It airs Tuesdays at 10pm. The target audience for this show, and most MTV programming, is typically males and females 13-25. I say the target audience for this show is kind of perfect because with the increasing use of DVR, which I’ve mentioned multiple times, and the busy multitasking lifestyles of teens and college students product placement is sometimes the most effective way to market to them.

To start off, the show/competition is set in South Africa. At first I was thinking what kind of branding can you find in South African? Pretty much in the middle of a subtropical and secluded area. My next thought was the only product placement I might find would be placed by MTV and for the MTV network. Well I was half right. The majority of the signage and clothing had either the MTV or the Inferno 3 logos, which was expected. But MTV did a good job of incorporating and placing other brands within the show as well.

The host of the show is BMX champion TJ Lavin which is relevant to the show as most of the challenges are pretty extreme. This brings up an association with BMX dirt jumping and such competitions as the X Games which Lavin currently holds titles in. Next is the T-Mobile Sidekick phone which serves as the players’ sole form of information as to what their next challenge will be. The phone is showed each time the team finds out about a new challenge along with the sound of the T-Mobile signature ring tone, so at least once an episode. Also, the T-Mobile name and logo are always zoomed in on when it is in use. Sometimes members even announce that they “just got a message on their T-Mobile Sidekick phone.”

In this particular episode, the winners of the challenge received a Schwinn motor scooter which was both shown prominently and referred to at the beginning and end of this week’s challenge. Coincidentally, TJ was wearing a t-shirt and a hat with the Schwinn brand name and logo throughout the entire episode.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Newest in Product Placement!

A new media company, VideoAnalytica LLC, is introducing dynamic or switchable product placement. If you’re like me and unfamiliar with this concept, VideoAnalytica describes dynamic product placement on its Web site as, “a low cost way of transforming product placement from a one time event, done during filming, to a series of slots that can be sold like traditional 30-second spots.” This new video technology allows media owners to sell product placement "slots" in their video content as if they were traditional advertising slots, which can be based upon time period, region, production run, computer hard drives and different customer profiles.

Aside from reduced production costs and efforts of brand marketers and content owners, and its ability to produce more targeted and therefore effective placements, VideoAnalytica also offers a list of other benefits offered by dynamic product placement. Its Web site lists them as:

1. Increased revenues from existing content where product placement can be inserted, experimented with and changed.
2. The ability to capture more value from video content that has been more successful than anticipated.
3. Updating of product placements where the product is no longer available or looks dated, e.g. with consumer electronic products.
4. Improved targeting in international campaigns where international consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies wish to promote different products in different markets.
5. Reducing the cost of product placement by enabling smaller audiences as a potential offering to advertisers.

Due to the increasing use of DVRs and skipping of television commercials, VideoAnalytica seems to be arriving at the perfect time for advertisers. While the technology for dynamic product placement, provided by VideoAnalytica, is still patent-pending, I’m sure many marketers are anticipating its arrival. For more information on VideoAnalytica and the services it will soon be offering go to its official Web site or its “informal” site where it offers insights into the realm of product placement.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

“Blades of Glory”: Another Ferrell-Product Placement Winning Duo

A couple weeks late I know, but the fact that I had time to catch a movie at all is a wonder, particularly this time of year with 100 end-of-the-semester projects to work on. Anyways, this past weekend I was able to see “Blades of Glory,” where Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play two rivals in the world of professional figure skating. After getting into a fight at the world championships, the two are banned from men’s figure skating, but then return as a pairs team. You probably remember Heder best as the socially awkward Napoleon Dynomite. And ofcourse we all know Will Ferrell from everything from SNL to my favorite, Old School, to the product-placement-smothered Talladega Nights released last year.

Blades of Glory” certainly comes in as a close second when it come to brand placement in a feature film. First and foremost, Orbitz premiered for the first time in theatres as it sponsored the sporting event where Ferrell and Heder made its first appearance as a pair: The Orbitz Winter Sports Games in Montreal. Aside from the sponsorship, Orbitz appeared in signage, screen text, and references by commentators. Other instances of brand placement using signage in sporting venues includes Xbox 360, Subway, Crest Whitestrips, Verizon, TrimSpa, Footlocker and Nationwide insurance. More tangible placements were of Skittles candy, CapriSun juice pouches, Captain Morgan’s rum, Froot Loops cereal, Google and Trojan condoms. Perhaps it’s the whole sports sponsorship scenario, but both Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory are two examples of relevant and effective product placement, even though it wasn’t particularly subtle. While Blades seems up to par in terms of product placement, comedy-wise it still has a lot to live up to compared to the legendary Old School.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More On In-Game Placement: Four Major Brands’ Plans

Last week, I talked about the increasing popularity and effectiveness of in-game product placement. In the latest news, four big brands have initiated a 3-month in-game advertising trial. These four global brands are Ford, Nike, Unilever’s Sure for Men, and Samsung. The ad spending for these brands will be committed to game placements compatible with the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox Live, and PC. Expenditures are also limited to advertising in the UK.

While Nike, Samsung and Unilever are aiming their trial placements in shooting games, Ford has different plans. In support of its new Fiesta ST model, Ford bought ad space in various racing games including “Need for Speed Carbon” and “Trackmedia Sunrise.” In such games, players can race around in a Ford Fiesta ST as well as view ads and signage for the brand throughout the game. Other promotional activities for the Fiesta ST include campaign sites on MSN and ads on Windows Messenger live as a result of a deal with Microsoft. Microsoft can also be credited for supporting the in-game initiative with its reported research findings that the in-game ad market was worth $56 million in 2005 and is estimated to reach $1.8 billion by 2010. Such figures have helped to encourage many brands to enter the gaming world as a profitable source for marketing. More about this newly announced in-game initiative is discussed by New Media Age in its article, “Ford and Nike join in the biggest trial yet of in-game advertising.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Getting the Gamers: Brand Placement in Video Games

According to a recent article in Mediaweek, “Let the In-Game Ads Begin”, product and brand placement in video games are an effective way to reach the average gamer. Mediaweek describes this segment as “professional males with high disposable income.” Marketing to this segment in-game is key because they are also likely consumers of such things as DVR and interactive TV, and frequently engage in multitasking. All of these factors have also been known to hinder the effectiveness of traditional advertising. Some brands that have entered the gaming world include Intel, T-Mobile, Jeep and Red Bull. These, and other, brands can be incorporated into video games in various ways… all of which are effective if placed strategically and in the right context. Some brands develop in-game billboards advertising real-life products. Mediaweek reporter Justin Townsend also discussed another increasingly popular possibility: “fully integrated, interactive product placements, where a product can be used as an integral part of the gameplay.” This can mean a Coke purchased and consumed in-game by your player, or characters in the game driving around in particular auto brands. These opportunities allow gamers, or their characters, to experience certain products and services in-game, increasing their curiosity and awareness of the real-life brand.

These in-game placements result in not only visibility and exposure, but trial and relevance to gamers’ needs and interests. The Mediaweek article continues to discuss the effectiveness of in-game product and brand placement, including how it can be quantified and measured for effectiveness using ROI and market data, as well some do’s and don’ts of in-game advertising.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Entourage: Promoting Brands in the Fake Real Hollywood Scene

I don't know about you, but last night was an occasion I've been waiting months for: new episodes of Entourage. A continuation of season 3, the episode premiered after a 7 month hiatus on the normal Sunday 10pm timeslot on HBO. Guaging the popularity among college students, particularly apparent in our little Entourage "party" last night where almost 20 of us crammed into my neighbor's apartment living room to watch, it can be assumed that product placement within the show was exposed to many Gen Y viewers. On a side note, this return of one of my favorite shows has made me regret overlooking HBO when signing up for our cable plan earlier in the semester, an investment that may have been as, if not more, crucial than our DVR purchase.

Anyways, I was so excited for the premiere last night that I had forgotten to grab a pen and paper to jot down any product placement I spotted. And ofcourse there was no leaving in the middle of the show. So here are some placements that I recall strictly from memory. And if you think about it, my ability to retain them from last night's episode only goes to show how effective they were. First there was the Lakers basketball team and their home court the Staples Center in LA, which Vince and his "entourage" were shown attending as a birthday present from his new agent. Then ofcourse, Turtle sported his NY Yankees hat pretty much throughout the entire episode; a red one this time. As for Drama, he was cast in a new TV drama "The Towns". His subplot focused on the billboards for the show and his attempts to guage how much attention they were receiving and if passer-byers would recognize him from them. The product placement for this instance was the NBC logo placed on each of "The Towns" billboards and ads throughout the show. Lastly, the episode ended with Vince's birthday party, sponsored by Victoria's Secret, a brand name that was shown prominently and multiple times throughout the scene. Not to mention two of the famous VS Angels posing with Vince at the party. Many will recognize them from real-life VS commercials and print ads. Skyy Vodka was also present at the party, with its blue bottles shown being poured, labels out ofcourse.

Some of the brands shown more discretely were a Smuckers jar at the breakfast table and both Visa and Mastercards which Turtle maxxed out. However, the big players for the night were definitely the Lakers, Victoria's Secret, Skyy Vodka and the other sponsors of the party. For more episode and program information on Entourage, HBO has an entire site dedicated to the largely popular show. Unfortunately, there's no free video streaming of the episodes on this site. Guess you better have HBO on Demand or at least a friend who has it if you want to catch last night's premiere: a lesson I learned the hard way.