Product placement quality is perhaps even more sensitive than straight ahead advertising to the emotional elements of communication, given its generally passive and integrated nature. That said, trying to measure product placement impact by day after recall is a sub-optimal way to assess its potential effect on the audience and the brand.
iTVX and OTX Research, a Hollywood-based Internet market research firm, recently completed a study that will be presented at the ESOMAR/ARF Week of Audience Measurement Conference in Montreal on June 21, 2005. Without giving away the store, the study did verify and build on prior research to show that seamless integration of a product placement in a TV show is a positive thing. Recognition of the placement was enhanced when placements were not intrusive, even among non-regular users of the brand. In addition, the higher the quality of the placement, the better was the recognition of the brand in the clip.
In a prior MediaPost commentary, we discussed the dramatic and aesthetic factors that influence the quality and potential impact of a product placement on the brand. In line with this discussion, recent research by Chuck Young of Ameritest and John Kastenholtz of Unilever points out that the brand can play many roles, or what they call 'Hollywood types':
The brand as star The brand as supporting actor The brand as director The brand as producer
The link between aesthetic response and the job of a quality product placement in supporting or surrounding one of these roles is evident. While we would love to see the brand always in the right position at the nexus of dramatic tension and resolution, it can also play other powerful supporting roles. The important point is to recognize that the impact here is emotional, as opposed to rational. Thus, day after recall, it is widely asserted, will 'penalize' the placement. Recognition, on the other hand, because it accesses a more basic and elemental symbolic/emotional force, will better reflect the 'real' condition and effect of the product placement. Quality depends on a holistic realization of the product placement effort, not a cognitive-based research method contaminated by brand familiarity, phantom recall, or real memories that can't be translated very well into words. If you are trying to assess the true effect of the product placement on the brand, recall is probably not the best way to do it.
Click here to view this week's Featured Product Placements from iTVX.