Agencies Explore Product Placement, Find Consumers Receptive

A variety of new advertising research is shedding light on consumer attitudes toward the burgeoning field of product placement. One such study, released Tuesday by Mediaedge:cia's MediaLab, finds 50 percent of consumers have noticed brands shown in movie and TV product placements. And in a finding that should bring a smile to the marketers who push product placements but worry that there's no hard-and-fast way of determining ROI, more than 60 percent of them say they were willing to try the advertised brands. A second report released this week by Horizon Media, meanwhile, suggests that product placements in movies may be more effective - particularly for reaching young, affluent and well-educated consumers - than TV plugs.

Receptiveness to product placement varied by age and gender in the MediaLab study, with youth and women more likely to react positively. Sixty-two percent of younger consumers didn't mind seeing product placement in movies and TV, while 59 percent of older consumers surveyed said they didn't think product placement was appropriate in TVs or the movies.



Joe Abruzzo, managing partner of MediaLab, said the findings show that product placement has found its place in the media landscape. He said that as technology empowers consumer choice, product placement is an ideal way to showcase brands.

"However, for product placement to remain effective over time, it is absolutely essential that it [be] executed in a sensitive manner that respects the integrity of the content and does not diminish consumers' enjoyment of the program," Abruzzo said.

While it gets a lot of attention these days, product placement in the movies isn't anything new. Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media, notes in a study released this week that the 1951 film "The African Queen" features Katherine Hepburn's character dumping Humphrey Bogart's Gordon's Gin bottle into the river. Product placement caught fire with 1982's Reece's Pieces but it's been almost everywhere for Ray-ban sunglasses, Dr. Pepper, automobiles and Coca-Cola, among many others.

Horizon Media's report finds that cinema advertising in general and product placements in movies can be an effective way to target young, affluent and well-educated consumers. And because of timing, cinema advertising can complement a TV campaign. Where TV viewership is the lightest - holidays, weekends, summers - that's when the most people are in the theaters.

"With theater chains creating a dedicated sales force, and marketers willing to spend millions on product placement, going out to the movies will increasingly become yet another opportunity for advertisers to target consumers," said Horizon Media.

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