Product Placement: Still Value There?

Morgan-SpurlockAdreak just had an article, 7 Memorable Moments in Product Placement History that got me thinking, is product placement worth it?

I am not going to go through the entire list, even though it did have me laughing at some funny scenes from Wayne’s World and Talladega Nights, but I do want to discuss whether product placement still has value. Do brands benefit from having their products in shows and movies? Does product placement have an effect on consumer’s spending habits? There must be some type of return or companies wouldn’t continue to shell out large sums of money to get their products in these shows or movies and even video games now, I am just having trouble seeing it. Are consumers even paying attention to these products when they show up, do they care about what type of car the characters are driving or what type of beer they order in a scene? It seems that, as an audience, we are so used to product placement that we don’t pay any attention to it. Not to mention the second screen element of smart phones and tablets being used while watching. There isn’t a novelty to seeing products anymore; we expect that to happen. It actually stands out more when they use fake products. So if there is nothing special about seeing the products being uses, why do companies continue to pay big money for their product to be there, sometimes for a split second?

ET Reeses Pieces

The answer must be… they still see a return. Obviously I do not have access to all the data companies are looking at, but they must have figures that show an ROI when they have products in movies or shows. One of the most notable product placements is Reese’s Pieces being used in ET. Reese’s saw an increase in sales of 65% after their product was in the movie. This doesn’t always happen, but even if companies get just a portion of that percent it could pay for itself; and you just might get lucky like Reese’s did and get a huge return from it.

I don’t see product placement going away any time soon and we may not pay attention to it like we used to, but as long as companies see a benefit and believe it has value, you will continue to see name brand products showing up in television shows and movies.

Bonus: For more on this I have to recommend The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a 2011 documentary film about product placement, marketing and advertising in movies and TV shows, directed by Morgan Spurlock.

Also, one of my favorite product placement scenes: Wayne’s World

Author: Gary Balakoff

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Gillette: Making Our Own Products Look Bad

FlexBallIt is called the ProGlide FlexBall and it is Gillette’s latest razor innovation. As always they have a huge marketing and advertising campaign to launch the new razor. They are even getting some praise for the business model they are using and how it such a departure from their norm. However after reading the article and seeing some of the commercials for Gillette’s new razor something bothered me and it is something that always bothers me when Gillette advertises a new product. They always rip on their own preexisting product to make the new one look better.

I understand that comparison ads are a regular strategy used by many companies, but typically these are done comparing Company A’s new product to Company B’s new product to make A’s look better. Gillette, however, likes to compare their new product to their old product and make their old product look bad. They did it with Sensor vs Mach 3, Mach 3 vs Fusion, Fusion vs ProGlide and as the video below shows, ProGlide vs ProGlide Flexball.

 

Gillette does make a great product, I should know I use the Fusion, but are they going to tell me that all other companies make such inferior products that they have to use their own products vs each other to get the point across? Gillette does have innovative products, even their older models stand up over time, so why bash these older products just to make sales with the new ones? As long as I have worked in marketing, I never thought about being negative towards one of my own products and I still don’t agree with this strategy. Gillette obviously doesn’t have a problem with it and I am sure when their next great innovation comes out The FlexBall will find itself on the other side of the comparison.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Amazon Music: Late To The Party?

 amazonprimemusicAmazon.com amazonprimerecently launched a streaming service called Prime Music… You may have missed it, I know I almost did (and I am an Amazon Prime member). With the recent increase in Amazon Prime membership from $79 to $99 I am always looking for added benefit to my membership, but is a streaming music service the best direction for Amazon to go in an effort to retain current customers and attract new ones. It just might be too little, too late for Prime Music.

I get it, Amazon wants to create value for their membership and wants to grow their brand and brand loyalty, but is this the right way to do so. They are joining an already packed field with competitors such as Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and Beats Music. Many of these competitors are major players with a strong hold on the streaming music industry.

Music_Throwdown

So why introduce a new product line, a streaming music service? Well for one Amazon has been involved with music for the last 16 years in one way or another, starting with the sale of CDs which was their second category offering ever after books. Also, streaming is where the music industry seems to be going and amazon wants to be a part of that. They are also a very large and successful company who can afford to take a chance with a new product launch. A company as large as Amazon has the resources to take a hit with a new product and wait it out till it becomes successful. I think Amazons biggest challenge is going to be its music offerings. They only have a library of one million songs, which might seem like a lot, until you put that next to Spotify’s 20 million. Also the lack of new mainstramazon-prime-music-logoeam hits is a draw back. Other streaming services have all the current tunes and while Prime Music has the hit artists, it isn’t always their latest stuff. Not to mention that Amazon has yet to reach a deal with Universal Music, the world’s largest music label.

streaming-music

An intriguing new product choice for Amazon and knowing them they will continue to tinker with it and make improvements to it, but they may just be a little late to the streaming industry to make a real impact. As a Prime member I will continue to check back and use the streaming service from time to time and am interested to see how successful it can be; for now though it isn’t adding a whole lot of value to my $99.

Author: Gary Balakoff

F.O.M.O. (An Infographic on Social Media Users)

I saw the infographic below on my Google+ page. It has some good statistics about social media and users of social media. The statistic that stood out to me was the one on F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out). It shows that 56% of people surveyed suffer from F.O.M.O. and are afraid they will miss something important if they aren’t keeping up with their accounts. As a proponent of social media marketing, this is the behavior that I want to tap into. If I provide relevant content on a regular basis, it is this behavior that will allow my marketing to be seen and can create awareness for social media campaigns. I still need to provide content that gets individuals to respond and take action, but knowing about F.O.M.O. helps in understanding the behaviors of social media users and who is seeing the messages. Are there any statistics that stood out to you or that you find useful?

SocialMediaAddictionInfographic

Author: Gary Balakoff

Note: This post is a couple days late, however my wife and I just welcomed our second child to the family.  Things have been a little busy but posts will get back on track in two weeks.

Taco Bell, Star Wars and Luke Skywalker

luke_xwing

As a huge fan of Star Wars and Taco Bell’s Dorito Loco Tacos, I would like to use Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star to highlight what I like about how Taco Bell handled the launch of the Cool Ranch version of the Loco Taco.

When Taco Bell launched the Doritos Loco Taco (can’t believe it took so long for someone to figure that amazing combination out) it was an instant success.  In fact it became the fastest selling Taco Bell item of all time (source). Personally, I think they are delicious and contributed to those sales figures. It wasn’t long after the release of the Nacho Cheese flavored taco that chatter for a Cool-Ranch flavored one started.  Talk of a Cool Ranch Loco Taco seemed to be everywhere, friends, co-workers, social media, radio and TV. I kept hearing people say, if Taco Bell was making a Nacho Cheese one, it only makes sense to have a Cool Ranch one. However, there was no announcement or release of a Cool Ranch taco and Taco Bell was sitting tight with just the nacho cheese one.

x-wings

This brings me to Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (because we all know the original trilogy is all that matters, but that is a completely different post). The strategy Taco Bell chose to go with is much like the strategy Luke Skywalker employed to destroy the Death Star in the movie. At the end of the movie Luke is part a squadron of fighter pilots that must hit a specific target to destroy the evil empire’s massive starship, the Death Star. Luke is able to get himself within striking distance of the target and is moving in to take the shot. As he does so Darth Vader (the enemy) starts chasing him. Now Luke has a fairly clear shot, although from some distance, but chooses to get closer and closer to have a better shot, even with Darth Vader closing in on him. Despite the pressure of Darth Vader about to shoot him down, Luke stays his course and gets in position for the perfect shot… BOOM, destroying the Death Star and saving the day.

Taco Bell, much like Luke waited, even with all the pressure to release a Cool Ranch Loco Taco, for the best possible moment.  Think about it, the Nacho Cheese flavored taco was breaking sales records and a Cool Ranch flavored one would have just added to those sales, but that would have given Taco Bell only one wave of excitement, with the flavors running parallel.  Instead Taco Bell waited and waited, even with all the demand, till the right time when the hype was calming down for the Nacho Cheese flavor. Then, with a very strategic launch, started a brand new wave of excitement with the Cool Ranch flavor. This may not have been easy, but by taking the same approach as Luke Skywalker and waiting for that perfect shot, Taco Bell created two very successful product launches for each of the flavors, not just one combined launch with the flavors together. They even made light of it in their commercials for the Cool Ranch Loco Taco.

With your campaigns, do you have the nerve to go against popular opinion? Can you stick to the plan you think will get you the most success even with your customer base and/or critics saying you should do something else? Will the Force be with you like it was for Luke Skywalker and Taco Bell?

Author: Gary Balakoff