Product placement is a slowly growing concept in the UK, but it is a phenomenon that has existed in films and US television for many years. Brands pay for their product to be featured on screen where it is driven, drank, eaten, or used by a character, or simply positioned in shot in the background. Until February of this year it was an unknown on British television with Nescafe the first to take the plunge by paying ITV £100,000 to promote their Dolce Gusto coffee machine on This Morning.
Of course there are restrictions to the type of brands allowed to utilise product placement. There is also the unfortunate need for a rather clunky ‘P’ which has to be shown on screen before and after a programme that features a paid for product positioning. Nevertheless this should not dissuade brands from adding another marketing opportunity for their business.
To date the most unique example of product placement is the recent announcement that the producers of Colin Farrell’s new film Fright Night have secured a deal with Channel 5, to feature the film in Celebrity Big Brother – as long as housemates complete a task. Not only that, but three pairs of viewers can also win to watch the film with the housemates. This is a great example of lateral thinking by marketers and, I suspect, one of the first occasions where a film is product placed, as opposed to the traditional concept where films act as the medium for brand exposure.
A cynic will argue that Big Brother might make the task sufficiently easy for the housemates to succeed and thus be able to watch the film. However, that isn’t necessarily the point. The advantage for the producers of Fright Night is the publicity they will receive from partnering with Channel 5 and Big Brother, more so than the fact that the housemates could watch the film. The better advertising and marketing campaigns succeed for two reasons: quality and awareness. In-depth discussion in numerous articles, tweets and blogs will boost the profile of the film and unfortunately for non-fans like me, Big Brother too.