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

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

Applebee’s Instagram: Power to the Foodies

#FantographerUser generated and influencer content is a great resources for advertising and Applebee’s is taking this strategy to the next level with their Instagram account. Starting in July and lasting for 12 months, they are turning over the account to their diners. User must go to a microsite to give permissions and ok the privacy policy stuff, after that anything posted with #Applebees or #Fantographer (the campaigns title) will get posted on their Instagram. Applebee’s even brands your post with a nice boarder to tie it into the campaign.

I like this idea for multiple reasons… It is easy for users, Instagram’s popularity, simple to manage and explain… but the real reason I like it is that is utilizes user generated content for the campaign. User generated content is becoming more popular in advertising but it is still a relatively untapped resource for companies and brands. Why do I like user or influencer generated content so much?

  • It shows you care about your customers and what they have to say
  • You are engaging with your consumers/audience
  • It creates authenticity and honesty in your advertising
  • Work of mouth: More likely to share content because they created it
  • An emotional connection, people get excited to see their posts used
  • Creates a level of transparency for the company
  • People love to talk about themselves and share pics
  • It is free or relatively low cost content

iPhoneI could probably go on, but I think you get the idea. User generated content can be a great tool for advertising. Sure there can be some negatives to using this type of content, issues like having to monitor very closely to avoid negative or inappropriate content, what if no one shares content for the campaign, technical issues, etc. However those companies that look past these issues and take a chance on their audience can create a campaign that has a bigger impact than several traditional campaigns put together.

So if you don’t mind taking a chance and have faith in your consumers, reach out to them and see what they can do. Who knows they just might surprise you and help create one of your most powerful advertising campaigns?

Author: Gary Balakoff

Spontaneous Travel

There are a lot of companies doing spontaneous travel campaigns to promote their products. I like the concept of someone getting randomly picked and being whisked away on an immediate adventure. Wish that would happen to me. One problem, the commercials never seem legit, they always feel like it was staged. Here is one of the recent ads, Expedia- Find Your Spontaneity:

There is also an extended version HERE

When I watch these types of commercials, I feel like all the individuals are reading from a script, like they are hired actors, especially the people who end up going on the trip. For this Expedia one I picture the actor showing up for a shoot in the park, dressed like he just got out of work and reciting a few lines, then they film some clips of him packing. A few days or weeks later they do a location shoot in China on the Great Wall (who knows that may not even be real). Ok, I could believe a few of the people they talk to in the park are not actors, but I just don’t feel that the guy going on the trip is a random person.

Here are 3 recent online commercials I saw with spontaneous travel themes. What do you think, do these feel real or staged?

Doritos- The Boldest WWE Fan

 

Heineken- Departure Roulette

 

and Heineken- Departure Roulette En Route

 

The idea of spontaneous travel and giving a random person the experience of a life time at the drop of a hat is great and a memorable way to promote your product. I just wish the commercials felt more authentic and less staged. Even if they are not real, make me believe they are. I want to feel like there is a chance, even if a small one, that it could happen to me. (So you’re telling me there’s a chance.)

Author: Gary Balakoff

This is SportsCenter

SportsCenter

A couple of weeks ago ESPN had a special called the Top 50 This is SportsCenter commercials hosted by actor Jason Sudeikis. They started this campaign back in 1997 to highlight their flagship program, SportsCenter. For a campaign to last 16 years, it must to be a good one. It seems like most campaigns will last a few months, maybe a year and then it is on to a new one to keep things fresh. ESPN has done something right with the This is SportsCenter campaign and after watching the countdown I decided to discuss why I think it is such a good campaign and why it has held up.

SportsCenter Countdown

They Keep it Simple/Know who they are: ESPN is all about sports and SportsCenter gives the latest scores and highlights for the sports world, so what do the commercials deal with… sports. The campaign doesn’t try and get fancy or cute. They even use current players, coaches, sports personalities and mascots in the commercials. ESPN is in the business of sports and that is what their commercials are about.

Humor: The commercials are funny and some of them are really funny. I can’t think of one that hasn’t made me laugh. As long as they keep coming up with funny jokes and scenarios, the commercials will continue to be entertaining and memorable. Think about the commercials that you remember, chances are some of them are funny ones.

Make fun of themselves: ESPN and the SportsCenter anchors are not afraid of poking a little fun at themselves. Whether it is making fun of how ESPN only covers the Yankees and the Red Sox or certain quirks an anchor has, they don’t hold back.  Some of the commercials have even dealt with how easy it is to be a SportsCenter anchor.

Not afraid to be edgy: ESPN comes off as a pretty straight forward and conservative company.  With these commercials though, they aren’t afraid to get a little edgy.  There is The Swim Suit Calendar with the anchors doing a photo-shoot in swim suits (even Linda Cohn), The Bed Wetter with Scott Van Pelt getting the nickname Bed Wetter and the Locker Room with Dan Patrick and Trey Wingo in towels doing interviews about how the show went. As a whole ESPN stays pretty conservative, but going outside that with these commercials adds to their entertainment level.

Stay relevant: Sports stories are changing all the time. One day a player or team is in the spotlight and the next day they are old news. The commercials stay up to date and feature current people and stories of the sports world. This keeps things fresh and relevant and from feeling overplayed.

thisisSC

As a huge sports fan I am frequently watching ESPN and have seen just about all of the commercials. It was nice getting to see some of my favorites in this countdown.  I thought about listing my favorites, but there were just too many. If you want to check out the commercials visit ESPN’s YouTube page HERE. It is not often we see a campaign last for 16 years, but if you can do what they have and find that right combination, I say stick with it as long as you can.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Top 3 AT&T It’s Not Complicated kids commercials

One of the better campaigns out right now is AT&T’s It’s Not Complicated kids campaign. They are some of my favorite commercials running at this time. I love the off-the-cuff feel and how the kids seem to drive the conversations. Yes, I have read articles talking about how the commercials are not completely adlib and that there is a basic scripted idea. However the articles also mentioned that the directors will let the kids talk and see where it goes, a film everything and see what there is in the end approach. Obviously the kids steal the show, but the actor (Beck Bennett) is just as funny and delivers the right amount of lines to enhance the comedic level without overshadowing the kid’s performances.

Since I enjoy this campaign so much I thought I would rank my top 3.

Honorable Mentions: Dizzy (here) and Nicky Flash (here)

These two crack me up, but just weren’t funny enough to make my top 3.  They were good enough that I had to at least mention them, so feel free to click the links and view them.

Number 3: More

The girl’s rambling about why someone would want more seems to go nowhere, but strangely enough I feel like I can follow her thinking.  This sediment is backed up by Beck’s nicely placed line “I follow you”.

 

Number 2: Werewolf

The little girl’s statement about becoming a werewolf is so random. She goes on and on about becoming a werewolf as an example for why it is better to be fast. The rambling in this spot actually does go nowhere, but is funny enough that I don’t really care. My favorite part being when she makes the growling noise and then translates it. Beck delivers a perfectly timed and confused sounding “what?” that wraps it up nicely.

 

and Number 1: Tree House

The disco comment is funny but the little boy’s delivery when he is talking about the T.V. is amazing and such a representation of how kids communicate (trust me I have a 3 year old boy of my own). That boy steals the show.  Not to mention that he is talking about putting a flat screen in a tree house, which is funny enough.  This commercial makes me laugh every time I see it, even when I looked up the clip for this post.

 

If you are interested, there is a short behind the scenes video on the making of these commercials HERE.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Truth or Just Gross- Too much shock in ads

shocked_woman

I have always been a fan of the Truth, anti-smoking campaigns.  For one, I agree with the message they are trying to send, but I also love the creativity and guerilla marketing style the commercials portray. About a week ago though, I saw their latest ad and I have mixed feelings. It got me thinking, when does advertising become too over-the-top and distract from your message.

Their commercial is called Ugly Truth: Poop vs Pee, take a look:

I get that the Truth campaign is about shock value, but I feel like this is a bit much.  When I saw it, I wasn’t shocked at the information they were giving me about smoking, I was shocked at the images I was seeing on the TV. Also, it took seeing the ad a few more times to really understand the message they were trying to pass along. Shocking or surprising content in a commercial is a valid tactic, but when does it become too much.  Is there a point, at which we can say, that is too much shock value, our ad is losing its effectiveness?

I don’t have that answer, but what I can say is that a commercial or any ad should leave the recipient thinking about the product or service you are trying to sell.  An ad should make someone want to go buy what you are selling or at least want to find out more about it. When a commercial gets to the point that it is all shock and no content I think it starts to be less effective. When people start to walk away thinking about how crazy a commercial or ad was instead of the message you were trying to give about your products or services, it may be time to start scaling back on the shock.

Author: Gary Balakoff