Product placement is a type of advertising where brands place their products in the media to be seen by large audiences. The best examples are TV shows and movies where characters will use the product or it will be on screen. Production companies will receive funding for featuring a brand’s products in exchange for screen time.
The 2021 film Don’t Look Up included over 90 different brands, from Dell computers to Tom Ford glasses worn by various characters. The James Bond franchise can also be a “spot the product placement” game, with Aston Martin, Omega, and Heineken featured heavily. Omega is even featured in the dialogue of No Time to Die.
While it’s an advantage for the production company, there are many benefits for businesses to use product placements. Here are a handful of reasons why product placements can help your marketing strategy.
Collaborating with a popular TV show or movie will undeniably bring your product and brand to a wider audience. Viewers automatically assume your brand is trustworthy, and your sales will likely increase.
Some production companies will allow you to use clips or stills from the show or movie in your own advertising. You can still state that your product was used in a show or film, even if they don't allow you to use images.
Some brands can even get celebrities from the show or movie as brand ambassadors to further spread the word. Many will only be for the project's duration, but some stars may set up their own deal if they like your product.
Some brands are discovered through product placements, allowing them to use that platform to share their story. You’ve gained recognition through product placement, and you can use your story to foster customer loyalty.
The first product placement in film occurred alongside the birth of the medium in the 1896 film Washing Day in Switzerland. However, the practice really gained steam in the 1980s. In E.T., the little alien followed a trail of Hershey’s Reese’s Pieces into the woods to his new home. This resulted in a sales boom for Hershey’s and rejuvenated product placement as a practice. Back to the Future refers to Pepsi in one scene, and Marty McFly wears a pair of self-lacing Nike sneakers when visiting the future. The decade also saw Tom Cruise donning Ray Bans in Top Gun.
Sometimes, product placements can be less subtle. In Castaway, Tom Hanks’s character worked for FedEx. Instead of paying for their placement, they helped with the film’s production crew logistics.
Coca-Cola is a brand that does product placement incredibly well, featuring in major films like King Kong in 1933 and incredibly popular TV shows like Stranger Things in 2019.
Many newer films and TV shows invest heavily in product placement because it helps fund their productions.