Product Placement Gains Traction

Good morning. I'm writing to you on the heels of OMMA East. Like many of you, I will be in New York for Advertising Week. It's sure to be a whirlwind of excitement, networking, events, and seminars. On Tuesday I'll be joining some esteemed panelists to talk about the value of celebrity endorsements, product placement, and branding through search. It's a loaded topic so I thought I'd ask, when you think about it, what comes to mind?

In my writing, I often focus on the fact that the 30-second spot is slowly dying. With the penetration of digital video recorders on the rise, advertisers and marketers need to find new ways to effectively reach consumers. The bottom line is, it's an on-demand world out there. As digital marketers and advertisers, we need to carefully assess how to reach our beloved target audiences without ticking them off.

Because this is not an easy challenge, I thought about how fragmented a lot of media and advertising is today. This is ironic, as just about every agency under the sun claims to be "integrated" -- one word that is not only misused but overused. Ever tune into your favorite TV show, notice one of your favorite characters talking about some fab shoes she just bought, go online and try and Google them -- and poof, they're not there! This is where the supposedly "integrated" agency misses the boat big time.



I have to admit, I watched a season or two ago of "The Apprentice." At first I was uneasy -- perhaps it was the kitchiness of Trump with that combover, or the fact that I just can't believe how people would do anything to work for him. I don't know. I did get hooked, but was very much in the closet about watching it -- until one day, when I was shocked to see great product placement from our friends at Yahoo!. The Hotjobs logo was all over the tops of taxis cruising through Manhattan, and contestants feverishly logged onto their laptops to use search engines in order to find resources for their latest task. This was cool stuff.

The value of product placement in movies, TV shows, on Web sites, in music, etc. is expected to be over $225 million this year. This is no surprise, as consumers are on communications overload, with a barrage of messages flashing through all forms of media, traditional and non-. Let's face it, you can barely walk into a supermarket or airport without walking over a promotion that's adhered to the floor.

Are Americans catching onto product placement? Are some becoming critics? I think it's important to make sure that product placement is natural, not forced. According to the Association of National Advertisers, 63 percent of 118 marketers surveyed say their companies have used some form of branded entertainment -- products woven into program content -- in the past year.

Product placement must be smart. The Pontiac deal with "The Oprah Show," where 276 new Pontiac G6 sedans were given away after last year's season premiere, was a big deal. Research showed that 95% of people in America knew about the promotion, and sales of the car gained traction. Pontiac has sold about 68,702 G6 sedans since the model hit the market last October, according to Mike Chung, a pricing and market analyst for

Well I'm excited to see what the other speakers and audience have to say about product placement, celebrity endorsements and search tie- ins on my panel on Tuesday. In the meantime, how do you feel about these topics? Please post to the SPINboard.

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