I was going to ask “have you ever bought a car – any car – because of product placement?” but I figured that was too much of a reach. So let’s keep it to any product in general.
Companies pay big dollars to have their products featured in movies and TV shows. Whether it’s Audis in I Robot or BMWs in Pierce Brosnan’s early Bond movies, branded phones, shoes, clothing, cigarettes, alcohol, computers – all of these products appear on screens because companies offer them up and often with cash incentives to bump things along.
We have a TV show here in Australia called The Gruen Transfer, which is all about advertising and the strategies used to get people to act in a certain way. The one thing I’ve learned through watching Gruen is that nothing is accidental in advertising. So even if you’re not aware that a program or advertisement is working on you in a certain way, it usually is.
So has product placement or straight-up sponsorship ever convinced you to act?
This question has come up because Saab’s tie-in with the hit TV show Burn Notice has apparently been a runaway success with around 500,000 unique visitors visiting the Covert Ops game’s website. Around 50,000 people actually played the game to a conclusion at an average of 12 minutes each. Those numbers exceeded GM’s expectations by 400% so as you might expect, everyone’s happy.
Well almost everyone.
Saab’s US sales are still in the toilet. In the last few months, this has been due to harsh economic conditions and uncertainty about the brand’s future, but Covert Ops has been around for two seasons now, starting back in 2008 when Burn Notice first started.
I struggle to see any bump in Saab’s figures due to Burn Notice and I’m not the only one. GM’s own product placement guy agrees:
“Can a TV show sell cars? I’m not sure you can do that when you’re talking about $30,000, $40,000 vehicles,” Mr. Bernacchi said.
But maybe that’s not the name of the game.
“But can it generate interest, intrigue and desire behind a vehicle? Absolutely.”
No-one’s buying, but I guess we can take an increased level of interest on some level as a parting gift from GM. This is something that, statistically at least, went right.
Advertising works in subtle ways. I’m trying to think of instances where I’ve been swayed by advertising and I’m even trying really hard to be honest about it. I say that because I’m one of those people who believes that I’m not swayed by imagery and subtlety. I’d like to think I only react to ads based on logic (i.e there’s a product on sale for 20% off – I’m interested in that product, so I’ll look into it) but I know it’s probably not the case.
My most obvious ad-related purchase would have to be the Apple iMac computer I’m tapping away on right now. I was impressed using Richo’s Mac to make an Aero-X movie back in 2006. I was further impressed by the look of the machines and the standard features in the box. But I have to admit that I was definitely open to the brand because of the brilliant Mac vs PC ads that I saw at that time, and since.
As I look around our home, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of our purchases have been experience-related rather than advertising related. My vehicle purchases have always been very deliberate, but maybe my attitiude to certain brands is more open now compared to 10 years ago thanks to product exposure in the automotive media, on TV and in movies.
So what about you?
What products of any type have you purchased largely based on advertising exposure or product placement?
What do you think works better – product placement and clever ads, or direct engagement with customers?
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