Product placement


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The latest trend in advertising is to make it, well, less advertorial. The tendency is to move away from in-your-face ads, where the product is the star, to mini-movies that feature "real-life scenarios" with the product(s) hovering in the background. Product Placement is defined as a promotional tactic used by marketers in which a real commercial product is used in fictional media, and the presence of the product is a result of an economic exchange. When featuring a product is not part of an economic exchange, it is called a product plug.

The majority of us are getting tired of ads. Today's consumer is inundated with advertising everywhere: television, radio, billboards, magazines, buses, newspapers, the internet... and these are just the usual suspects. More and more ad-space is popping up every day. From people walking down the street wearing signs, to flyers on our cars and in our mailboxes, to ads on the ATM screen as we wait for it to dispense our cash -- we see ads all day, every day.

Even television networks that depend on advertising dollars to stay in business know that it can be useful to ditch the interruptions and present a show without ads from time to time. The ABC network did it for "Gideon's Crossing" in 2000 and for "Alias" in 2001. FOX did it for its hit series "24" in 2002.

Wait a minute -- networks turning down cold, hard advertising cash? That doesn't sound quite right, does it? Of course they don't drop the advertising dollars all together. If you watched that "ad-free" version of "24" you know what we're talking about. Ford sponsored the show with two three-minute spots opening and closing the episode. And, Ford vehicles have been integrated into the show -- the main character, Jack Bauer, drives a Ford Expedition.

So, when is an ad not an ad? When it's a product placement. Once mainly found only on the big screen, product placement has been making quite a few appearances on television -- not to mention in video games and even books.

So, what is Product Placement?

Have you ever watched a television show or a movie and felt like you were watching a really long commercial? If so, then you've been the victim of bad product placement. There's certainly a line that can be crossed when presenting brand-name items as props within the context of a movie, television show, or music video. Clever marketing folks try never to cross that line. They want their products to be visible within a scene, but not the focus. The product needs to fit, almost seamlessly into the shot and context of the scene. When done correctly, product placement can add a sense of realism to a movie or television show that something like a can simply marked "soda" cannot.

PCE's are Presold Celebrity Endorsements. In short, it's when a brand offers money to a specific celebrity (s) to have product placement in the celebrity's next Movie and/or TV show. The celebrity has the option of keeping the endorsement money by insisting the brand be used in the new project, splitting the endorsement deal with the production company, or "drop" the endorsement offer if it cannot be worked in.
PCE's allow brands to more specifically target audiences, allow celebrities to cash in on product placement, and give brands more lead time on upcoming projects. PCE's can be customized to include specific requests from brands, such as "Character must order a beer by name in a pleasant setting." This gives brands some control over how their product will be used.

Early Examples

Product placement is something that dates back to at least the early 1950s when Gordon's Gin paid to have Katharine Hepburn's character in "The African Queen" toss loads of their product overboard. Since then, there have been countless placements in thousands of movies.

Think about it. You can probably remember quite a few examples. One of the most commonly discussed is the placement of Reese's Pieces in the movie "E.T." Originally intended for another product (they melt in your mouth, but not in your hand), this prime spot essentially catapulted these tiny peanut butter morsels into mainstream popularity. A slightly more recent and easily as effective example is the placement of Red Stripe, a Jamaican-brewed beer, in the movie "The Firm." According to Business Week Online, Red Stripe sales saw an increase of more than 50% in the U.S. market in the first month of the movie's release.

Product Placement Basics

A worldwide trend in advertising, product placement is a vehicle for everything from foodstuffs to electronics to automobiles. So, how does it work, exactly? It's actually pretty simple. Basically, there are three ways product placement can occur:

  • It simply happens.

  • It's arranged, and a certain amount of the product serves as compensation.

  • It's arranged, and there is financial compensation.

Sometimes product placement just happens. A set dresser, producer, director, or even an actor might come across something he thinks will enhance the project. Usually this has to do with boosting the level of credibility or realism of the story being told. One example can be found in the surprising use of a can of RAID -- an ant killer made by the SC Johnson company -- in an episode of the popular HBO series "The Sopranos." The poisonous prop was used in a particularly violent fight scene in the show. According to an article in USA Today, a spokeswoman for SC Johnson said the company was not approached about the use of their product and they would not have given it a thumbs-up.

Let's say the main character in a program or movie is an unmarried, successful, well-traveled architect in his thirties. From this description, it's easy to start thinking up things to enhance the feel of this character. Maybe he'd drive an SUV -- the four-wheel drive would come in handy when visiting building sites. He'd read particular magazines, drink certain wines, and eat certain foods... In making the character's life seem real, products necessarily come into play.

Let's Make a Deal

As we mentioned earlier, arranged product placement deals fall into two categories:

  • Trade-off of integration or placement for a supply of product

  • Financial compensation for placement or integration

The most common type of deal is a simple exchange of the product for the placement. Using our existing example, let's say the production team wants the architect to display a quirky affinity for a particular type of beverage. This will come across rather strongly over the course of the program (because the character even collects the drink's labels) -- which means the chosen product could get a lot of air time. It turns out that someone on the crew knows someone who works for Honest Tea. The movie people approach the Honest Tea folks with a proposal and a deal is made; in exchange for the airtime, the cast and crew are provided with an ample supply of various Honest Tea drinks at work. Sometimes, a gift of the product isn't an appropriate form of compensation, so money powers the deal.

Imagine that the marketing team at Tag Heuer has heard about this project and feels that, given the star power of the actor playing The Architect, this project would be a great vehicle for showcasing its product. Someone from Tag Heuer approaches the set dresser with a financially lucrative proposal. Eventually, they come to an agreement. Consider this scene: Our male character (The Architect) stands outside a movie theater waiting to meet a friend. The camera pans down to show a slight tap of the actor's foot. Next, it moves up and zooms in to show him checking his wristwatch for the time. After switching from the actor's face to the face of the wristwatch, the camera pauses just long enough for you to really see the wristwatch. He's wearing a link-style, stainless steel Tag Heuer luxury sports-watch. The camera pans out and swings around, introducing a beautiful woman into the scene... During the next hour of the program, the wristwatch casually appears in several scenes.

Both teams are happy -- the integration of the Tag Heuer product is a success. Remember, the advertised product's role is to be part of an ensemble cast rather than the obvious star. Tag Heuer manages to reap the benefits of conventional advertising without being overly obvious or intrusive to the audience/consumers.

Other Placements

Apple Computer frequently places its products in films and on television, where they therefore seem much more common than in most real-world offices and homes. Apple has recently stated that it does not pay for product placement, though executives will not say how their products get into movies and onto TV. In a twist on traditional product placement, Hewlett-Packard computers now appear exclusively as part of photo layouts in the IKEA catalog in addition to placing plastic models of its computers in IKEA stores—having taken over Apple's similar position in the Swedish furniture retailer's promotional materials several years ago.

A variant of product placement is advertisement placement. In this case an advertisement for the product (rather than the product itself) is seen in the movie or television series. Examples include a Lucky Strike cigarette advertisement on a billboard or a truck with a milk advertisement on its trailer.

Does Product Placement Work?
Since Popeye ate Spinach, advertisers have known that product placement is a powerful way to get people to try their product. When children saw Popeye eating spinach, they wanted to eat it thinking it would make them stronger too.
"Toy Story"- These toys were used as characters in the movie: Etch A Sketch, Mr. Potato Head, and Slinky. After the movie's release, Etch A Sketch sales increased 4500 percent, Mr. Potato Head sales increased 800 percent and Slinkys, out of business for 10 years, was deluged with 20,000 orders and has sold $27 million US worth of the toy since.

"E.T."- Reeses Pieces in "E.T" as sales of the candy soared up 80%.

"Austin Powers"- Featured a Union Jack painted Jaguar XK8. In the United States of America the expensive British motor vehicle's sales increased by 70 percent.
"24" and "CSI"- After early success with shows like "24" last season, Microsoft funded the marketing team to strike again this year, particularly for the company's new Windows Media Center Edition 2004. The software, an advanced TV application with the PC as its hub, will be featured on upcoming shows of CBS's forensics show "CSI," as well as "24" and "The Wire," among others.
"The Firm" (1993)-When Tom Cruise visits Gene Hackman in the Cayman Islands, Hackman suggests that he "Grab a Red Stripe," so Cruise opens the fridge for a bottle of the Jamaican-brewed beer. Within a month of the film's release, Red Stripe sales in the U.S. had increased by more than 50%, and just a few weeks later, company owners sold a majority stake in their brewery for $62 million to Guinness Brewing Worldwide.
"Goldeneye"(1995) - BMW used 1995's Goldeneye, a film in the successful James Bond series, as an integrated element for introducing a new model, the BMW 328i. It was judged the most successful promotion of 1995.
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" TV Show- Illumination's sales of a product featured on the show went up 365% following the program.
"The Apprentice"- Crest's new Vanilla toothpaste recently had a placement on "The Apprentice". The Crest website was met with 4.7 million hits within 2 hours of the show with customers requesting samples of the new flavor. This is the highest amount of website hits ever from a marketing campaign of any type.

Before product placement really saw a surge in the mid 1980s, it was pretty much a “Do it Yourself” effort. Now there are specific corporate positions and entire agencies that can handle the job. Some larger corporations will dedicate personnel to scout out opportunities for product integration or placement within films, television shows and even games and music.

Is Product Placement Cost Effective?

Quantification methods track brand integrations, with both basic quantitative and more demonstrative qualitative systems used to determine the cost and effective media value of a placement. Rating systems measure the type of placement and onscreen exposure is gauged by audience recall rates. Products might be featured but hardly identifiable, clearly identifiable, long or recurrent in exposure, associated with a main character, verbally mentioned and/or they may play a key role in the storyline. Media values are also weighed over time, depending on a specific product's degree of presence in the market.

Product placement companies work to ensure that their clients' products receive maximum screen time and exposure - whether it be the Nokia phone that Agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) uses on Alias, the Lacoste polo shirt that Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) wears in the feature film Hitch or the Rimowa pilot case Gil Grissom (William L. Petersen) carries as he arrives at crime scenes on CSI.

Product placement can be seen as a modern version of the exhibit displays seen at world's fairs, concerts, sporting events, or anywhere that large numbers of potential customers gathered.

Benefits of product placement

  1. permanent – movies, reruns, airlines, videos

  2. low cost per exposure

  3. implied endorsement – millions see actors “using”

  4. product(Ty- Extreme Home Makeover – vacuum)

  5. Key influences – Hollywood has strong influence in broad market

  6. Positions product – drives usage, demonstrates how to use

  7. Launch products – drives sales
  8. reinforces brand (Seinfeld – Snapple)

Cost of product placement vs. print

Print ad in major magazine:

Cost of ad $60,000

Reach of magazine 500,000

# that flip to your page 150,000

# that read ad 15,000

#of times ad runs 1

Cost/exposure $4.00

Placement in a primetime TV production:

Cost of placement $2,500

Reach of show 5,000,000

# of viewers 5,000,000

# that view placement 5,000,000

# times show runs in 1st year 50

# of yearly viewers 250,000,000

Syndication reach/year 50,000,000

Cost/exposure $.000008

Product Placement in the Movies

The next time you watch a movie, try to keep an eye out for products or brand-names you recognize. It's highly likely that you'll see one of the major soft drink companies represented. Is it Coke? Pepsi? Snapple? Once you've spotted something, see how many other scenes include that product. You'll start to see a trend. "How," you'll wonder, "can the actor hold the Coke can just the right way every time so that the logo is perfectly visible?"

Take a minute to comb through your movie memories. You'll probably recall at least a few of these now-famous product placements:

  • Risky Business - Ray-Ban sunglasses

  • Back to the Future - Pepsi products

  • Demolition Man - Taco Bell (In the future, everything is Taco Bell...)

  • You've Got Mail - America On-Line (AOL), Apple, IBM and Starbucks

  • Austin Powers - Pepsi and Starbucks

  • Cast Away - FedEx and Wilson

  • Men in Black II - Ray-Ban sunglasses, Mercedes Benz, Sprint, Burger King

Faux Product Placement

Product placement in movies is so ubiquitous that it's even become something to parody on the big screen. Two movies that do a good job of this are "Wayne's World" and "Josie and the Pussycats." In Wayne's World, the two main characters hawk a variety of stuff, including Nuprin, Pepsi, Pizza Hut and Reebok. The amusing part about this is that the product placement vignette takes place while the characters Wayne and Garth are lambasting the very thing they're doing. As Wayne says "Contract or no, I will not bow to any corporate sponsor," he is opening a Pizza Hut box and pulling out a slice of pizza. The camera lingers on the Pizza Hut logo and Wayne, holding the slice of pizza lovingly beside his face, smiles straight at the camera.

The movie "Josie and the Pussycats" takes the joke several steps further. A send-up on the music industry, "Josie and the Pussycats" manages to satirize name-brand integration throughout the film. To get an idea of just how saturated with brands, logos and products this movie is, here's a taste of what you can see in just the trailer alone (Keep in mind that the trailer is only two minutes and twenty-five seconds long!): America Online, American Express, Bebe, Billboard Magazine, Bugles, Campbell's Soup, Coke, Entertainment Weekly Magazine, Evian, Ford, Gatorade, Kodak, Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, Milky Way, Motorola, Pepperidge Farm Cookies, Pizza Hut, Pringles, Puma, Ray-Ban, Sega, Starbucks, Steve Madden, Target, and T.J. Maxx.

Some filmmakers have responded to product placement by creating false products that frequently appear in the movies they make. Some examples:

  • Kevin Smith - Nails Cigarettes, Mooby Corporation, Chewlees Gum, Discreeto Burritos

  • Quentin Tarantino - Red Apple Cigarettes, Big Kahuna Burger, Jack Rabbit Slim's Restaurants.

  • Robert Rodriguez - Chango Beer.

This practice is also fairly common in certain comics, such as Svetlana Chmakova's Dramacon (which makes several product-placement-esque usages "Pawky", a greeking of the name of the Japanese sweet "Pocky", a popular import amongst the anime and manga fan community amongst whom the story is set), or Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon (which includes numerous references to the series Codename: Sailor V which Moon was spun off of; the anime makes even further usage of this meta-referential gag, going so far as having an animator on a Sailor V feature film be the victim of the week in one episode).


Product placement is not quite as widespread in TV land as it is in the movies, but it is a rapidly growing industry. More commonly referred to as product integration in this medium, this process has to share its advertising space with traditional advertising, also known as the 30-second spot. Since the beginning of televised programming, advertisers have shelled out the big bucks to promote their products and brands. The 30-second spot has been the reigning champion for a very long time. Does that mean there can only be one winner in the television advertising arena? Not necessarily.

There's a big difference between product integration and a standard 30-second advertising spot. Yes, both are a means to a similar end, but that doesn't mean there's only room for one of these vehicles on the advertising block. In fact, the current trend is a combination of the two. This trend can in large part be attributed to many of today's reality-based television shows, which seem to be a perfect match for product integration. The very best example of this is the popular talent show "American Idol." Not only are segments of each episode sandwiched between ads for Coca-Cola, AT&T Wireless, Old Navy and Ford, but some of these companies' brands and products are evident (REALLY EVIDENT) in each episode. Here are some examples:

  • Coca-Cola - Each of the three judges sits behind large red cups emblazoned with the Coca-Cola logo.

  • AT&T Wireless - Host Ryan Seacrest mentions AT&T wireless each time a contestant finishes his/her song. Fans can submit their vote as a text message if, and only if, they have AT&T wireless.

In a recent article for the New York Times, Bill Carter writes:

Searching for ways to thwart any trend toward skipping commercials on programs recorded on personal video recorders like TiVo, the networks are increasingly integrating their sponsors and their products into the shows themselves, rather than limiting their presence to commercials. Ford Motor and Coca-Cola, for example, are two of the advertisers that have paid millions of dollars to have their logos prominently displayed during episodes of "American Idol."

According to AdAge magazine, the phrase "millions of dollars" mentioned above actually refers to about $26 million per integration/sponsorship deal. Yes, that means that EACH of the companies -- AT&T Wireless, Coca-Cola, and Ford -- dished out 26 million dollars.

These companies do get a lot of bang for their bucks, though. In fact, after visiting the "American Idol" Web site, it makes you wonder if the product placement there is included in that bill. Now, you may be wondering "product placement on a Web site?" "Isn't that just an ad?" Well, no, not exactly. There are actual sections of the Web site that integrate the brand or sponsor's name entirely.

The greatest number of product placements is in reality programs, and last year Nielsen says “The Contender” was heads above every other show with 7,514, almost double its nearest rival in total occurrences.

But on a per-episode basis, the numbers were more alarming. For each of the 15 telecasts, “Contender” had a whopping average of 500.9 individual occurrences of products placed in its shows. The next in line was “American Idol”– but it was way down that list, with an average of just 83.3 product occurrences per show. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” had a total of 3,318 occurrences in 73 telecasts for an average of 45.5 product occurrences.

Product placement isn't just for movies and television anymore. You'll find it in books, music videos, video games and on the Internet. Let's take a look at how product placement is being used in these other arenas

To some, especially if you haven't seen it, product placement in a book or a video game is pretty difficult to imagine. Where exactly would they place the products? It turns out there's plenty of opportunity for this manner of advertising.

Product Placement in Books

Read All About It! Imagine a well-known company commissioning an equally renowned author to write a book that prominently features its brand and products. Sound a bit far-fetched? It's not. The world-famous jewelry company, Bulgari, paid noted British author Fay Weldon to write a novel that would feature Bulgari products. The commissioned work was to be given as a present to an elite group of Bulgari clientele. Not only did Weldon agree to the deal, but she eventually took her work public. "The Bulgari Connection" has met with skepticism and praise from Weldon's colleagues and fans alike. Undoubtedly, Weldon has set a precedent that other authors and publishers will follow. For more information regarding Weldon's Bulgari book, see Your ad here.

It turns out that even a modest amount of investigation can unearth several other product-prominent published works. Actually, one of the largest genres to feature product placement is children's learning books. Here are just a few examples of what you can find at your local library or bookstore:

  • Skittles Riddles Math, by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, Roger Glass

  • The Cheerios Counting Book, by Rob Bolster

  • The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book, by Jerry Pallotta

  • The Hershey's Kisses Addition Book, by Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster

  • More M&M's Brand Chocolate Candies Math, by Barbara Barbieri

  • The M&M's Brand Counting Book, by Barbara Barbieri McGrath

  • The Crayon Counting Book, by Pam Munoz Ryan

  • Twizzlers Percentages Book by Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster

  • The Cheerios Christmas Play Book, by Lee Wade

  • Reese's Pieces: Count by Fives, by Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster

After reading these titles, you may be assuming that the companies are merely sponsoring the book and that the content is pretty standard fare -- possibly not even incorporating the product into the content of the book. Think again. In "The Oreo Cookie Counting Book," the back cover reads:

Children will love to count down as ten little OREOs are dunked, nibbled, and stacked one by one...until there are none!

A quick flip through the pages confirms that Oreo cookies are indeed featured prominently on every page!

Product Placement in Video games
As they continue to become more and more realistic, it's actually pretty easy to understand the advertising possibilities available within today's video games. The USA Today article What's in a name: Product placement in games states:

Play Crazy Taxi and a lot of your passengers will ask you to take them to Pizza Hut or KFC (both owned by Tricon Global). Dive into Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza...and you'll see Zippo lighters and Motorola cell phones. UbiSoft's Surf Riders has G-Shock watches and banners for Mr. Zog's Sex Wax, a surfboard wax.

According to USA Today, product placements in video game software have been around since the 1980s. Back then, Sega was placing banners advertising Marlboro in its auto-racing arcade games. Apparently, Sega's still onboard with product placement. In Sega's Super Monkey Ball, the bananas sport Dole Food Company stickers. Surprisingly, this kind of product integration isn't about the cash. Just as product placement in movies promotes credibility and realism in the movie, it does the same thing in the video game -- making the "environment" of the game more lifelike.

Product Placement in Songs

One of the earliest examples of product placement within a song can be found in Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Not only did it have its little toy surprise going for it, Cracker Jack also had a memorable mention in the chorus of this (now) immortalized melody. Written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and later scored by Albert Von Tilzer, the chorus goes like this (feel free to sing along...):

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

Since then, many products have popped up in tunes around the world -- some have even garnered top billing, appearing in the title. Consider Run-DMC's track "My Adidas" from their multi-platinum album, Raising Hell. Long before Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z were giving props to Cristal champagne, Run-DMC was giving a lot of air time and screen time to the fashionable footwear. They weren't only singing about their Adidas; the tennis shoes were a prominent element in their dress. While Adidas didn't commission Run DMC, and Norworth and Tilzer weren't paid to promote Cracker Jack, many of today's music professionals are striking deals and getting paid. According to

AdAge: Marketers Explore Product Placements in Music: In an attempt to further leverage its diverse artist roster, Island Def Jam Music Group [incidentally, Def Jam Music was founded by Russell Simmons, brother of Joseph Simmons -- Run of Run-DMC] is in formal talks with Hewlett-Packard Co. in an unprecedented paid product-placement deal.

AdAge also reports:

In almost all cases, a brand has found its way into a rap song because of artist preference or through an organic, creative predilection and not because of a record label dictate to appease an advertiser. For example, not until Busta Rhymes' recent single "Pass the Courvoisier Part Two" moved a healthy number of units was a promotional deal with Allied Domecq completed. This relationship has had a significant boost on sales of the Allied Domecq brand, according to the company.


The James Bond film License to Kill
featured use of the Lark brand of cigarette, and the producers accepted payment for that product placement. The studio's executives apparently believed that the placement triggered the American warning notice requirement for cigarette advertisements and thus the picture carried the Surgeon General's Warning at the end credits of the film. This brought forth calls for banning such cigarette advertisements in future films.

Some such as Commercial Alert, believe product placement is "an affront to basic honesty" which is too pervasive in today's society. Commercial Alert asks for full disclosure of all product placement arrangements. They feel that most product placements are deceptive and are not fully or clearly disclosed, advocating notification of embedded advertisements before and during a television program. One justification for this is that it allows greater parental control for children, who are said to be influenced greatly by product placement.

The film Minority Report, loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story of the same name, makes heavy use of product placement including Coca-Cola, Nokia, Gap and Lexus. Director Steven Spielberg also uses one scene to apparently criticize advertising: the main character (Tom Cruise) is harassed by personalized advertisements calling out his own name. The movie Fight Club, directed by David Fincher, bites the hands that feed it by depicting acts of violence against most of the products that paid to be placed in the film. Examples include the scene where the Apple Store is broken into, and the scene in which Brad Pitt and Edward Norton smash the headlights of a new Volkswagen Beetle. However it is arguable that the negative portrayal of these ads is cancelled out since they are in fact still paid-for product placements within the film.

Like lots of advertising methods, product placement can be hit or miss. One particular example of product placement gone awry is the Reebok/Jerry Maguire fiasco. Reportedly, Reebok had a placement agreement to integrate one of its commercials at the end of the film "Jerry Maguire." The commercial didn't make it to production -- but something else regarding Reebok did. In a pivotal scene, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character makes disparaging remarks about the company.

As products are finding their way into movies, television, music, books and video games, it would seem like there's nowhere else to go. But with digital technology continuing to skyrocket in both form and function, there's a seemingly endless stream of new and innovative ways to put products in front of potential consumers. Whatever the future holds, there's no doubt you'll continue to see many of your favorite stars holding, handling and using products of all kinds on the big and small screens for years to come.

Product Placement News
"Dr.Phil" One-Hour Product Placement Results in 200,000 New Sign Ups!

LOS ANGELES -- hit the jackpot with a product placement that gave it a solid hour of exposure on the Dr. Phil show, pulling in 200,000 new members to its service in one day.-

Mountain Dew to Produce Action Sports Movies

Deepens Involvement in Snow, Surf and Skateboard Culture

CHICAGO -- Already a big sponsor of extreme-sports events, Mountain Dew is expanding its involvement in board culture with the launch of a new film division to produce action sports movies.-

Pontiac's "Apprentice" Placement Stampedes Viewers to Web - 1,000 People Register to Buy Solstice in 41 Minutes

DETROIT -- General Motors' integration of Pontiac promotions into an episode of The Apprentice appears to have been wildly successful, generating high buzz and advance orders for the new Solstice roadster - Madison&

IAG Top 10 Most-Recalled Product Placements in Network Dramas

NEW YORK -- Jeep's exposure in the April 11, 2005 episode of Fox's 24 led the list of the 10 most-recalled network series products - Madison&


FX Network Sitcom Set in a Philadelphia Taproom

LOS ANGELES -- In a product placement deal that makes its beer brands the only ones that will appear in a new TV comedy series set in a bar, Anheuser-Busch has signed on with the FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. - Madison&

Other Resources

  • brandcameo - – a website counting product placement and brand appearances in films, published by brandchannel.

  • Brand Hype -– a website dedicated to exploring product placement from a critical perspective. Includes a growing database of movies and placements, including sequence, nature, and duration.

  • Feature This - A company that deals in product placement, offers examples of shows, etc that can incorporate product placement opportunities. Includes cost, benefits, examples, clips of product placement in movies/TV. shows, etc. -

  • Norm Marshall and Associates, Entertainment marketing - – a company that represents corporate clients in the entertainment industry
  • Handbook of Product Placement in the Mass Media: New Strategies in Marketing Theory, Practice, Trends, and Ethics - book

  • Kerry Segrave - Product Placement in Hollywood Films: A History – book




Cooperative Learning Assignment
Get into teams of 3-4 students each. Based on the Seattle Post – Intelligencer article, “Put Product Promos in Fairy Tales? Just Think of the Opportunities,” create your version of a children’s fairy tale but include product placements for at least 10 different types of products. Be specific and make sure the product is viewed in a positive light. The products also need to be “school appropriate!” After 15 minutes, you will be presenting your story to the class.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Put product promos in fairy tales? Just think of the opportunities



The latest news on the children's book front comes from The New York Times, which reported Monday that an upcoming teen novel had been amended in the service of product placement.

The scoop is that an early galley of "Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233" had the heroine wearing a "killer coat of Clinique #11 Black Violet" lipstick. In the final edition of the Running Press book, however, the reference was changed to "a killer coat of Lipslicks in 'Daring.' "

Why the change?

It seems Lipslicks is made by CoverGirl, a Procter & Gamble company that agreed to plug the book on its Web site in exchange for a few product references.

"Cathy's Book," due out in September, was written by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, who have marketing backgrounds themselves.

We could all learn a thing or two from this deal -- namely, that children's literature is the land of unmined opportunity. Imagine the possibilities. Here's how a savvy dealmaker might approach it, starting with this classic of the backlist:


Once there were three bears: Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear.

They were very happy -- until they sat down at their Broyhill dining table one morning and discovered their Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express was too hot to eat.

"Let's go for a walk while it cools off," Mama Bear said. "Just let me throw on my Calvin Klein jacket and grab my Kate Spade handbag."

While she was getting ready, Papa Bear closed his morning Post-Intelligencer, pulled on his Mariners cap and zipped up his Seahawks jacket. He tied Baby Bear's Nikes. Then off they went, into the big woods!

In another part of the forest, a little girl was going exploring. Her name was Goldilocks, because her hair was as lustrous as Clairol's Balsam Color in the shade of Ultra Light Golden Blonde.

Soon she came to the Three Bears' house.

"Knock, knock," she rapped.

Unfortunately for the three bears, no one had remembered to set the Honeywell First Alert Professional security keypad. So Goldilocks opened the door and walked right in.

"Yum, Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express," she said, casting a hungry eye at the bears' breakfast.

She sat down at Papa Bear's place, picked up the Oneida "Chateau" stainless-steel flatware and plunged it into the single-serve microwaveable cup.

"Ouch!" cried Goldilocks. "This Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express is too hot!"

She moved to Mama Bear's place, took a bite and said, "Ugh! This Quaker oatmeal product is too cold!"

With that, she carried the single-serve cup to the Three Bears' Panasonic 2.2-cubic-foot microwave. She pushed the one-touch reheat sensor designed for moist, flavorful leftovers.

While she waited, she completely forgot about Baby Bear's Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express, which had been just right but was rapidly congealing.

"Ding!" went the timer.

Goldilocks pulled Mama Bear's Quaker breakfast out of the microwave. Yum! It was just right. She ate it up.

Then she wandered into the Three Bears' great room. Her feet hurt and she wanted to rest.

She plumped down onto Papa Bear's oversize Amish Originals Mission Chair. Too young and undiscerning to appreciate its fine wood grain, she cried, "This chair is too hard!"

Next she tried Mama Bear's middle-size chair. It was a romantic Lillian August Townsend chair with down-blend cushions and tufted back. But did Goldilocks even notice? No, she did not. It's highly questionable whether Goldilocks even deserved such a nice chair because when she sank into it, all she said was, "This chair is too soft!"

Growing frustrated, she moved on to Baby Bear's itsy-bitsy chair, a discount-store import of uncertain provenance. Down she sat. Splat! The chair shattered to bits and sent Goldilocks sprawling.

Weary from these mishaps, she climbed the stairs and decided to settle in for a nap. First she tried Papa Bear's great, big bed, with its Oasis 1200 Extra-Firm Support innerspring, organic mattress with electrically tempered steel coils.

Wow. That got her attention.

"This bed is too hard!" she cried.

Then she curled up on Mama Bear's middle-size bed, with its Tempur-Pedic CelebrityBed mattress with cashmere-blend cover and down-filled duvet.

"This bed is too soft!" Goldilocks fretted.

Finally she curled up on Baby Bear's Pottery Barn Speed Boat Bed and Trundle. It was just right! Goldilocks soon was fast asleep.

Meanwhile, the Three Bears were heading home to breakfast, which, by now, certainly needed the services of the Panasonic reheat sensor. Right away, they sensed something amiss.

"Someone's been eating my Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express," growled Papa Bear.

"Someone's been eating my Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express," gasped Mama Bear. "And they've eaten it all up!"

"No, they haven't," said Baby Bear, generously offering the cold, gluey remains of his breakfast. "You can have mine."

Father Bear stopped growling long enough to remember that they would not soon run out of Quaker Instant Oatmeal Express.

"No fear," he soothed Mama Bear. "There's plenty left. Remember? We got it at Costco."

And with that, they searched the house, found Goldilocks and blasted her out of bed with their Bose Wave Music System.

Goldilocks was so startled, she jumped out of the Anderson 400 Series Roof Window and ran home. And she never visited the Three Bears again.

The End

P-I reporter Cecelia Goodnow can be reached at 206-448-8353 or


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