Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Product Placement - The Next Generation


I remember watching My Three Sons on CBS 40 years ago and noticing every car in each episode was a Pontiac. Then, during the credits it read: Automobiles furnished by Pontiac.
There is a great scene in Live and Let Die the movie, when Bond is in the backseat of a cab. The driver is killed with a dart from a passing car, and the cab careens out of control. Every car the cab almost hits is a Chevy Impala. There are Impalas of every color. Two doors, four doors, wagons, each an Impala - and an early attempt at product placement.

Product placement has come a long way in 40 years. Now, companies pay everyday for their products to be placed, positioned & used on television & movies. Whether or not this type of advertising actually works, remains to be seen. Real studies on product placement indicate it might not be effective at all. It hasn't kept companies from doing it though. From the Diet Pepsi cans on Friends to the cereals in Seinfelds kitchen - these products are everywhere - placed there on purpose to influence your buying. Now, brace yourself for this. FROM NOW ON, THESE PRODUCTS MIGHT NOT REALLY BE THERE!

Oh, they'll be there. Digitally. On your screen, just not on the set. There might be a box of crackers on a table that really isn't there. There might be a soap bottle by the sink - that is simply digitally inserted into the scene. And, when the same episode runs in syndication it might be a different soap, or the box of crackers might become a can of peanuts.

There are more than 100,000 product placements per year, just on television right now. When producers can digitally insert products after production, what will the number be? It's gonna get stupid real fast. Soon, every product on television and in movies will be a brand name product. This is a far cry from the days when producers used tape to alter products by covering the name.

This all comes back to, is this advertising effective? In the case of this consumer, no. Now that I know the product I see with my own two eyes might not actually be there in the first place, I will be reluctant to purchase them. Why? Because they're messin' with my head.