Why bother with product placement?

The effectiveness of product placement really does need to be questioned. Results of research carried out by Lightspeed, for Marketing Week, are, frankly, terrible for anyone who thought they’d make some extra cash from a Government decision to allow brands to advertise within television shows.

Jo Roberts
Jo Roberts

It turns out that most of the British public have never even noticed product placement. Almost three quarters are unaware of product advertising in film or television. This comes as a bit of a surprise given some approaches that I’ve noticed in the last year. Take the recent Sex and The City film, which used product placement in a Truman Show style, with barely a minute going by without a brand name being gratuitously mentioned by one of the actresses.

The use of product placement in James Bond is hardly subtle either, but most respondents to this survey say they didn’t notice the big brands used within the film. Some argue that this means the products were integrated well into the film and were therefore authentic, but surely if you want brand awareness you’d be a little disappointed that no one had noticed your brand at all?

It’s more difficult to analyse the 81% who say that product placement that they have noticed hasn’t changed their purchasing decisions.

That figure is damming – you could almost write off product placement altogether. However, when I reach for my favourite chocolate bar (Green & Black’s Butterscotch flavour, just in case you’re interested) I don’t think I would be able to tell if I’d been nudged into my decision by some strategically placed point-of-sale. So I’m not sure if I would be able to necessarily tell if I had been influenced by product placement. ThinkBox’s Dave Brennan says there will be a lot of experimenting by brands to work out how to successfully execute product placement. If the figures of the Lightspeed survey are anything to go by, brands have got a lot of work to do if they are going to get noticed using product placement.

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