What Is Product Placement? Types, Examples, and Tips for Success

You’ve probably seen product placement before but didn’t even realize it. But what is product placement exactly, and how does it work?

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and noticed a character using a popular smartphone or drinking a well-known soda brand? Or perhaps you’ve played a video game where a character is wearing a recognizable brand of shoes? That’s product placement in action. 

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of product placement and explore how brands use this technique to reach their target audience in an effective and subtle way.

Key Takeaways:

  • Product placement is a marketing technique where branded products or services are featured in various forms of media content, like television, movies, social media, video games, and more.
  • Different types of product placement include visual, verbal, brand integration, and digital editing technology.
  • Key benefits of product placement are brand awareness, reaching target audiences effectively, bypassing traditional advertising barriers, and having a long-lasting impact on potential customers.
  • Securing product placements involves collaboration between the production company, marketing agency, and brand, with costs varying depending on the prominence and popularity of the content.
what is product placement

What Does Product Placement Mean?

Product placement (sometimes called embedded marketing) is a marketing technique where branded products or services are featured in movies, TV shows, music videos, video games, dialogue, social media photos and videos, and retail floors. Paid product placement promotes a brand indirectly rather than through traditional advertising methods like commercials or tactics like search engine optimization (SEO).

The history of this embedded advertising method dates back to the early days of cinema when characters would drink Coke or drive BMWs. Since then, it has evolved significantly, thanks to digital editing tech and the rise of social media channels. Today, paid product placement is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with brands vying for valuable screen time and audience attention.

How Does Product Placement Work?

Securing product placements typically involves collaboration between the production company, marketing agencency, and brand. Companies may approach brands with opportunities for product placement or proactively seek partnerships with content creators.

The process of negotiating and securing product placements can vary, but it often involves defining the terms of the placement, such as screen time, context, and fees. The costs associated with brand placement can range from a few thousand dollars to millions, depending on the prominence and popularity of the content.

The Different Types of Product Placement

product placement

Interested in getting your product out into the world using product placement? Several types of product placement methods exist, including the following:

Visual Placement

Visual product placement is the most common form of product placement, where the branded product is visible on-screen. For example, a character might wear a specific clothing line in a movie or drive a particular car model in a TV show. An Instagram influencer might give a quick video tour of their kitchen, with a strategically placed water bottle brand in the background.

Verbal Placement

In this type of product placement, the brand or product is mentioned in television, TV show, or video game dialogue. This can be an effective way to increase brand awareness without necessarily showing the product on-screen.

Brand Integration

This involves integrating the brand into the storyline or plot of the content. For example, a TV character might be an employee of the brand, or the brand might play a significant role in the story.

Digital Editing Technology

With digital editing tech advancements, you can insert or remove brands from content post-production. This allows for more flexibility and control over the final product. If the offer changes during production, the company can painlessly implement adjustments.

Benefits of Product Placement

Learn the key benefits of product placement so you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for your business.

  • Increased brand awareness and recognition: By featuring your brand in popular media content, you can increase brand visibility and recognition among your target audience.
  • Reaching target audiences effectively: Paid product placements allow you to reach your audience more organically and less intrusively than traditional ads, leading to higher engagement and improved purchase intention.
  • Bypass traditional marketing barriers: With the rise of ad-blockers and the trend of skipping ads on streaming platforms, an embedded marketing strategy offers a way to reach audiences who may not be exposed to traditional commercials.
  • Long-lasting impact on potential customers: Unlike traditional ads, which are often forgotten soon after they are viewed, inconspicuously placed products can have a lasting impact on viewers, as they associate your brand with memorable content.

Challenges of Product Placement

While product placement can be a powerful marketing tool, it also comes with its risks and challenges:

  • Balancing subtlety and effectiveness: Striking the right balance between making the product noticeable without being overly intrusive can be challenging.
  • The potential for negative associations and backlash: If the content featuring your product is controversial or poorly received, it could negatively impact your brand’s reputation.
  • Ethical concerns: Some critics argue that product placement can be manipulative and unethical, especially when targeting easily influenced audiences (like children).

Successful Product Placement Examples

product placement examples

The following examples demonstrate how effective product placement can be, from launching new products to getting celebrities involved.

Reese’s Pieces in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”

Before the movie, Reese’s Pieces was a relatively unknown product, but its exposure from “E.T.” was unparalleled. The movie became a massive hit, and audiences were immediately drawn to the small, colorful candies that the lovable alien ate in the film.

The placement of Reese’s Pieces was seamless and integral to the plot, making it an incredibly effective campaign. The brand saw a big sales increase, and the product placement’s success is still discussed in the industry today.

Apple Products in Various Movies and TV Shows

From the early days of the iPod in “Legally Blonde” to the MacBook in “The Social Network,” Apple products have become synonymous with cool and cutting-edge technology.

The use of Apple products by popular and well-liked characters in these movies and shows helps to reinforce the brand’s identity as a leader in the tech industry. This type of product placement has been incredibly successful in promoting Apple’s products and has helped them to become a household name.

“The Italian Job” and the Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper’s appearance in “The Italian Job” was a boon for the car industry. The car was featured prominently throughout the movie, and its unique design and compact size made it stand out from other cars of the time. The movie was a huge hit, and the Mini Cooper became almost as popular as the film stars.

The car was so popular that the demand for the Mini Cooper skyrocketed, leading to a significant increase in sales. The placement of the Mini Cooper in the movie was integral to the plot and was used to showcase the car’s abilities, making it an incredibly effective campaign.

Nike Sneakers in “Back to the Future”

Nike’s appearance in “Back to the Future” was one of the most memorable product placements of all time. The self-tying sneakers worn by the character Marty McFly have become iconic, and the Nike logo on those sneakers is almost impossible to forget. The placement of Nike sneakers in the movie was so effective that the brand decided to release a limited-edition version of the shoes in 2011. The demand for the shoes was so high that they sold out within minutes, showcasing just how powerful product placement can be.

The placement of Nike sneakers in “Back to the Future” was effective because it felt like a natural part of the story. The iconic design of the shoes helped reinforce the brand’s identity as a leader in the sportswear industry.

Tips for Successful Product Placement

product placement tips

To make the most of product placement opportunities, consider the following tips:

  • Choose the right media and target audience: Ensure the content featuring your product aligns with your target audience’s interests and preferences.
  • Work the product naturally into the content: Work closely with production companies and influencers to ensure your product placement doesn’t feel forced.
  • Collaborate with production studios and influencers: Build strong relationships with content creators to increase your chances of securing valuable product placements.
  • Monitor and measure the impact of placements: Track the performance of your product placements to assess their effectiveness and make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.

Summing Up

Product placement can increase brand awareness, help you reach your target audience, and drive sales.

Now that we’ve answered the question of “what is product placement,” you can use this marketing strategy to promote your brand in a highly targeted and indirect way.