In early 2005, media agency MindShare North America conducted a study of American TV viewers to gauge their views toward product placement; the outcome was a staggering 80% responded ‘positively’ toward placement in TV and movies and 1/3rd claimed to be responsive to placements by trying a product after seeing it on screen.
But does this claimed responsiveness actually correspond to results as shown by increased sales? Let’s look at a few examples:
- Reese’s Pieces in Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘ET’ – Originally, the alien creature was supposed to be lured out of hiding by following a trail of M&M chocolate candies. However, the company which produces M&Ms did not wish to have their product associated with an unproven and potentially unmarketable movie and Hershey’s, a rival company, agreed to provide a similar candy called Reese’s Pieces. The movie became a huge financial success, and the product placement boosted sales of Reese’s Pieces by 66%.
- Red Stripe in the Tom Cruise starrer ‘The Firm’ – Sales of Red Stripe, a Jamaican-brewed beer, increased by 50% in the months following the release of the film.
- MINI in ‘The Italian Job’ – Soon after the launch of the MINI in the US market, ‘The Italian Job’ was released. 32 MINIs had been donated to the production, and the outcome was a beautiful showcase of its features, dexterity and manoeuvrability, and as was expected, MINI saw a huge surge in popularity.
- BMW in James Bond film, ’Golden Eye’ – BMW made US$240 million in advance sales alone, purely due to the Golden eye.
- Ray Ban sunglasses in ‘Men in Black’- Ray Ban reported that sales of its Predator 2 sunglasses tripled to US$5 million after they were used in the film.
- Toys in animated film ‘Toy-Story’ – It lead to increasing Etch-a-Sketch sales by over 4000% and putting the Slinky maker back in business by achieving sales of US$27 million.
Some Bollywood examples of success include:
- Tanishq in ‘Paheli’ – The jewelry showcased in the film was so appreciated that it was sold out, earning Tanishq revenue of over Rs. 1.42 Crores and the high demand for additional pieces of the same jewelry made them add some of the designs into their regular repertoire. After the release of the film ‘Paheli’, a dipstick survey done by an independent agency amongst 300 respondents from SEC A and 25+ year olds revealed that there was a 13% increase in purchase intent and 10% increase in favourability for the brand.
- New Zealand in the movie ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ – Previously, it was neither considered a potential shooting location amongst film makers, neither a common destination amongst tourists from India, but such was the impact of the film that it has become one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst Indians and several films are shot there now.
In an online survey done by Synovate in 2005, across five Asian countries, respondents were questioned on brand recall based on active and passive placements in a wide range of clips. The outcome was that viewers have a preference for active placements over passive. According to Garton (Global Head of Media Research, Synovate), “This is not surprising since what they are seeing is a reflection of reality — objects that they use in their real lives every day. They can relate to what they are seeing on the screen.”
Although very effective measurement tools are not in place yet, when the events happen in isolation, such results can be claimed. Multiple companies, in India and abroad, are in the process of creating additional metrics that can be used to measure the product placement effectiveness.
While there isn’t a lot of published research on product placement and its successes, leading researchers and marketers have said the following:
“87% of advertisers believe branded entertainment is the key to TV advertising in the coming years”
– ANA and Forrester Research, “Marketers Losing Confidence in TV” February 2008
“Brands have realized that product placements alone do not give the returns that these companies are looking for. Integrated association with a movie with a strong banner of producers and actors, makes much more brand sense. It’s a relatively new trend [in India] and we will see many more of them happening in the near future”
– Rajnish Sahay, CEO of Percept Talent Management, India (specializes in 360-degree marketing within India’s film, music, sports and entertainment sectors)