Bite On This: Shared Content Vs. Product Placement


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.

2 comments about "Bite On This: Shared Content Vs. Product Placement ".
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  1. Steve Helsing from Progressive Insurance, January 27, 2012 at 1:07 p.m.

    Marketers need to realize if the way the product is placed in the show doesn't seem natural, it can bring about a negative response. "The Middle" did a much better job with the way they incorporated a VW Passat into their episode last week. It was fun, it was believeable in the context of the characters and probably got some positive buzz as a result.

  2. Jay Oconner from World Colours Network Inc., January 27, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

    This is a great topic and starting point. Most would groan because they may have already had to sit through a gazilion commercial breaks a day watching traditional TV or held hostage having to watch pre-rolls and ill timed commercial breaks on the web. Entertain Transmedia Brandcasting where there are limited commercials and the content is the Commercial with as minimum mentions but visual representations. What does that mean if channel offering the content chose no commercial and use only Product Placement the Customer Experience Trade off will be far worth it. PUSH VS PULL is the paradigm change and Transmedia Brandcasting Technologies will allow viewers to opt in by clicking on a product they want more information about or instantly purchase. But do Executives get that Television is paid for in large part by Advertisers. And don't Advertisers deserve more from the industry, the Technology is ready to provide clear deliverable quantifiable results down to the IP Address. Will the Gatekeepers finally get it or suffer the same fate as the Music Industry did with Napster. PRE-ROLLS AND TRADITIONAL COMMERCIAL BREAKS KILL THE USER/CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

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