Product placement is a marketing technique where references to specific brands or products are incorporated into another work, such as a film or television program, with specific promotional intent. Much of this is done by loaning products, especially when expensive items, such as vehicles, are involved. In 2021, the agreements between brand owners and films and television programs were worth more than US$20 billion.
While references to brands (real or fictional) may be voluntarily incorporated into works to maintain a feeling of realism or be a subject of commentary, product placement is the deliberate incorporation of references to a brand or product in exchange for compensation. Product placements may range from unobtrusive appearances within an environment, to prominent integration and acknowledgement of the product within the work. Common categories of products used for placements include automobiles and consumer electronics.
Product placement is a form of advertising that has been around for centuries. One of the earliest examples of product placement is in the 1633 play “Hamlet,” in which Hamlet drinks from a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Product placement has become increasingly common in recent years, as the cost of traditional advertising has risen. In the United States, product placement is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC requires that product placement be disclosed to viewers, either verbally or visually.
There are a number of benefits to product placement, including:
- Reach: Product placement can reach a large audience, as it is often seen by millions of people.
- Engagement: Product placement can be more engaging than traditional advertising, as it is embedded in a story or other form of entertainment.
- Recall: Product placement can increase brand recall, as people are more likely to remember products that they see in their favorite movies or TV shows.
However, there are also some drawbacks to product placement, including:
- Clutter: Product placement can become cluttered, as more and more brands try to get their products into movies and TV shows.
- Authenticity: Product placement can be seen as inauthentic, as it can feel like the characters in a movie or TV show are being paid to promote a product.
- Regulation: Product placement is regulated in some countries, which can limit the creative possibilities.
Overall, product placement is a powerful marketing tool that can be used to reach a large audience and increase brand awareness. However, it is important to use product placement carefully, as it can also be seen as inauthentic and cluttered.