Thursday, November 6, 2008

Product Placement 101: make it believable

Interesting piece from Madison & Vine on Coke, Mercedes and a new film called Slumdog Millionaire. It seems the squalid shantytowns of Mumbai did not add up to an ideal backdrop for either brand.

In this instance, the filmmaker utilised the brands in shot and then 'allegedly' asked permission from their owners. Permission was refused, so he dropped the Merc from the slum scenes and removed the Coke label from the bottle.

There you have it: product displacement.

M&V also commented on the challenges of product placement in blockbuster films:

Slumdog presents an entertainment marketing conundrum: Only a handful of companies have the global presence to benefit from the worldwide exposure that a motion picture generates.

I think the real quandry is that unless product placement is contextually relevant (or culturally resonant), it struggles to do anything much. Particularly for brands like Coke and Mercedes. Especially in a mass platform like a global film release. Certainly not as a standalone piece of communication.

It has to be believable.

One of the most enduring entertainment marriages is that of 007 and his faithful Aston Martin. The car has featured in no less than five Bond films, including the just released Quantum of Solace.

Interestingly, Jam has taken a look at the buzz generated by brands who've spent 50 million pounds getting Daniel Craig to call on that phone while driving that car and sipping on that drink. On the surface, it appears that at least one brand - Ford - is generating considerable talkability. But scratch below, and the plot thickens. Amongst both die-hards and mainstream audiences, the tone of conversation around Ford's involvement is overwhelmingly negative.

Having Bond speeding away in a Ford is akin to him sleeping with a cardigan clad house frau.

People just don't buy it.

Update: There's a series of opinion pieces on product placement in this month's Marketing Magazine. Check it out.

1 comment:

Farrel said...

great point and well written.