How would you respond to sandwich tastings as part of a storyline in a big network TV show -- or to something unprovoked from a friend about the sandwiches from the same fast-food restaurant?
The answer should be easy. Viewing a way-too-long product placement for Subway in a recent "Hawaii Five-0" episode on CBS got me thinking: What if a friend, who got a quick lunch bite, talked highly about his meal at a certain sandwich franchise?
Shared comments from a friend would have top billing, of course -- even versus paid ads or brand placements that are easier to digest, resulting in just a shrug-of-shoulder response.
General Electric recently did a study that seemingly confirms what a lot of executives have been thinking in this regard. It made the case that shared content among consumers works better -- a 77% approval rate versus 55% for those just exposed to usual paid advertising stuff. In a control group, 42% had a positive response to the GE brand when not exposed to any messaging/content.
Marketers have long assumed that word-of-mouth marketing has been a key marketing component -- even before the age of social media. For decades, film marketers have been closely observing this and recently the Internet has given them better quantifiable tools to examine the activity.
Here's the bad and the good: Watching the "Five-0" episode when Subway was injected in a storyline via a branded entertainment deal received more than a number of groans -- and not just from my household -- because of the seemingly extra length of the bit. On the flip side, the marketing folk at Subway should be assured the family of TV Watch still likes this food-on-the-go.
Fair warning. You want product placement? I'll allow you one reference point, one phrase, one sentence. Then move on. Now Subway: Figure out what to do next, how to get me talking and sharing in what your executives call a more "organic" way.