Do’s and Don’ts of Product Placement

* This is guest post written by Grace Ernster

Do you ever find yourself buying products without knowing the real reason behind it? What compelled you to buy that sweater other than the change of seasons; perhaps you saw a sweater similar on a recent video on YouTube for fall outfits. The sweater was subliminally burned into your mind and now Target has your money and you have a cute, new sweater. What happened here is known as product placement; an item was placed within a program and got into your head. Advertising likes to use product placing; this is a good and effective strategy when used properly.

Some Background Information

With the changing of technology, product placement has become more useful and looked to in recent years. People no longer have to watch commercials with devices like TiVo and DVR, they can simply skip through all that hard work essentially advertisers go through to get their product out there.

Netflix has done the same thing now, the cable doesn’t even have to be turned on, and a person can just log on from their computer and again skip all the commercials. In order to keep sales up and get the attention of consumers, advertisers are working together with TV programs and movies to put their products within a scene or throughout the entire production. It’s a brilliant strategy and a win-win-win for the advertisers, TV programs or movies and consumers.

There are several examples of good and bad strategies featuring product placement. Either way, there’s always going to be someone buying into it and buying the said product but there’s definitely a right and wrong way to subliminally get the idea of buying a product into a consumer’s head.

Do’s: Gilmore Girls

Shoving a product at the camera and being completely obvious with selling tactics isn’t a very effective product placement strategy; subtly having a character use the product is more effective, especially if it’s a beloved character. People sometimes want to be like characters that they like, so having that character use a good product is a sure way of getting sales and popularity up.

Gilmore Girls

When I was about 14, I was constantly watching Gilmore Girls; on this show the two main characters Lorelei and Rory are almost always drinking coffee. It’s a “thing” with the show; eventually I started drinking coffee and lots of it, now it’s part of my life. Gilmore Girls most likely had that impact on me and sold me the idea of coffee.

Now that I’m older and don’t see my friends as often, a coffee date seems like a good idea to hang out and casually catch up on things. Countless TV shows and movies promote this idea because it shows friendship as a need for affiliation.

Don’ts: America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway

The same cannot be said for America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway. Both shows tend to go the other way with product placement choosing the obvious in-your-face approach which doesn’t look very good. For countless seasons they choose to do the same tactics that include shoving products at the camera and are clearly sponsored snip-pits for certain points in the shows.

CoverGirl in America’s Next top Model

America’s Next Top Model always has a few episodes where the models go on go-sees, which is where they venture off through the city to meet with designers to basically interview with them and do test shots and walks for the clothes. Every time it’s a new top of the line phone with the newest GPS features that is blatantly shoved into the viewer’s face, “This is how the models find their way around the city, thanks to T-Mobil! Now you can find your way around town with the new T-Mobil (insert name here) phone now with the all new updated GPS system!” That’s basically a commercial within a show.

GoBank in Project Runway

Project Runway is not subtle at all with their product placement. For example when tablets started coming onto the scene, they were of course featured right away on the show. All the contestants were given an Apple iPad where they made their sketches for the clothes and it made their vision “come alive” they would say as the camera zooms in on the expensive product.

Innovative Approaches

Something new and extremely effective is watching beauty guru videos on YouTube and having a great product presented with honesty and no sponsorship. Girls like Bethany Mota also known as MacBarbie07 on YouTube have sold the delicious sugary idea of cotton candy ice cream to me in one her “favorites” videos which is a monthly video most gurus upload sharing all their favorite beauty, clothing and random other favorite products of the month.

About a year ago Meredith Foster also known as StilaBabe09 on YouTube started my candle and Bath & Body Works obsession when she raved about the peppermint mocha candle, a seasonal favorite. That stuck with me and I went out and bought the candle and am now a devoted Bath & Body Works shopper. These girls are not sponsored in any way to show the products so the viewer knows that the product is genuine and most likely a good buy.

Product placement is a delicate advertising strategy and can’t just “be done”. A product can’t just be thrown in the consumer’s face; the consumer has to have the idea instilled in a subtle way. A little mystery is needed and if there is sponsorship don’t make it obvious. Most likely on your bank statement, you’ll see that product placement is very effective. It’s the future of advertising and could possibly save it as more and more people subscribe to Netflix and record all their TV programs.

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Grace ErnsterGrace Ernster is a child care student who loves a variety of films from all the Harry Potter movies to mob films such as Casino. Her favorite movie character is Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted and her favorite actor is Leonardo DiCaprio, all of his roles are unique and well done! Her favorite TV shows are Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City.

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