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

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

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.

Top 3 Reasons I Love Marketing

Since I started this blog to share my thoughts on marketing, advertising and branding, I thought, what better to write about in my first post, than my top 3 reasons I have a passion for marketing.  I can remember the exact moment I got the marketing bug and knew this was the industry that I wanted to work in. It has everything to do with the 1980s Pepsi Challenge taste test promotion.  Yes this Pepsi Challenge:

 

I was a sophomore in college and sitting in the first day of my Introduction to Marketing class.  The professor was discussing what we would be learning for the semester and describing some of the activities and projects we would be doing.  Then he plays a video (on VHS) highlighting some of the biggest marketing campaigns of all time.  One of those campaigns was the Pepsi Challenge and after the video is over he informs us that we will be holding our very own Pepsi Challenge later in the semester as a case study.  He staged a Pepsi Challenge style taste test to see whether or not we could tell the difference between various colas.  The experiment was looking to prove if it was the marketing behind the colas that made us prefer one over the other or the actual taste.  Well regardless of the lesson we were supposed to learn, that was it, I was hooked, and I should probably call up that professor and thank him.

It wasn’t long after that I declared my major in Marketing and began signing up for every marketing class that I could.  So what is it about marketing that makes it so exciting?  I could probably list a dozen reasons why I have such a passion for marketing, but when it comes down to it, there are 3 main areas that really attract me to this industry.

  1. Entertaining/Emotional: I put these two together as one because as I thought about them, they seemed linked to each other.  Marketing can create such an emotional and entertaining experience that I think is one of the most important aspects to this industry.  You can have all the numbers, facts and information you want, but it is the emotional reaction you create for someone, what they remember. Being able to take an idea, build a marketing piece from it and have someone react to it or be entertained by it is such a gratifying moment. It is what makes all the hard work, the trial and error to get it just right all worth it. It is what draws me to an ad or commercial.  When I can watch TV and have that one ad, out of all the ads, grab my attention and make me react to it, it reminds me of why I love this industry.  Think about some of your favorite commercials, ads or marketing pieces and more times than not, there is an emotional value or entertainment value behind why you like it.  Obviously I want someone to remember what I am selling, but if I can create that entertaining moment for them, I know I’ve got them, I know I nailed it.
  2. Creativity: Something I really enjoy with this industry is being able to get creative. Coming up with ideas and shaping them into a campaign; thinking to myself, “that idea is out there… now how do I make it work?” I enjoy the creative process of brainstorming and considering every idea, taking parts of this thought and mixing it with parts of another. Not knowing where my inspiration will come from or what will make the final product start taking shape.  Creativity makes this industry exciting and keeps it from getting boring or monotonous.  It is your creativity that helps you to stand out and your work to get notices. Something I have learned over the years is to not be afraid, that not every idea will be a good one, but if I keep learning and keep pushing myself creatively, they will start to work more and more.
  3. Team work/Brainstorming: I briefly mentioned this in my previous point, but for me, it deserves its own mention.  When I start to develop a campaign or a promotion I usually have a ton of ideas floating around in my head. I just start jotting down anything that comes to mind, all on one piece of paper. After a while I will start to eliminate ideas and bounce them off my co-workers trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  This has been the set up for several of my jobs, where teamwork was encouraged and everyone could share ideas. I’ve always liked this process of brainstorming and getting others input. Sometimes it just takes a small jolt from something another person says to get your idea to take shape. I have always felt that in marketing, constructive criticism is necessary. You can’t worry about the criticism or being told an idea will not work. Sometimes it takes that criticism to grow and be successful. Working with a team and brainstorming keeps marketing exciting for me and creates a sense of camaraderie.

I could easily go on with this list, but for me these three really stand out and make my job in marketing so enjoyable.  Looking back at my decision to pursue a degree in marketing, it was definitely the right choice.  This is the industry for me and while it may not be for everyone, I thoroughly enjoy it. It brings me satisfaction and gives me a drive for successful.

Are you involved in a marketing position? What do you like or maybe dislike about marketing? What about marketing keeps you going every day?

Author: Gary Balakoff