With most companies slashing their marketing budgets in these tight financial times, it has become imperative for marketers to find creative ways of reaching audiences.
Many brands are turning to product placement to stretch their meagre budgets as far as they can go.
Brand communications consultancy High Pitch Media is adopting product placement as a major element of its marketing strategy because of its extensive reach and cost-effectiveness.
Product placement is a form of advertising where branded products or services are displayed in a context that is usually free of advertisements — such as films or TV soapies.
Mikateko Chauke, MD of High Pitch Media, says this is not only a very creative way of supplementing traditional forms of advertising, but also extends a brand's reach.
It enables companies to communicate directly with their target markets as they have access to, for instance, the demographics of a TV show's viewers. Prime time shows are more appealing.
Product placement is an essential marketing tool, especially for TV, because of increasing pressures on the medium, according to marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk.
The explosion of content across commercial and public platforms means viewers are spoilt for choice.
Moerdyk says this phenomenon should be taken advantage of as viewership of 30-second commercials is dropping alarmingly.
“In countries such as the Netherlands, statistics show that 72% of television viewers do not watch commercials,” he says.
New technology, such as PVRs, that enables viewers to evade advertisements, has made it crucial for marketers to approach audiences differently. One solution to dwindling numbers, Chauke says, is product placement as viewers' attention can be captured through a properly aligned story line.
Moerdyk says South African broadcasters are very aware of the concept as an alternative to traditional advertisements and, if done properly and subtly, it could have more effect than a 30- second commercial.
The past 10 years have seen a move away from scripted to natural and organic, seamless integration of brands. In SA, soapies have been the vehicle of choice, with programmes like Generations, Isidingo, Muvhango and 7de Laan being used for such campaigns. “When it comes to product placement, it does not get better than soapies," says Samantha Moon, a director of Stimulii, which styles itself as a “living brands” company.
“In daily dramas and soapies, product placement produces an instant star dialogue and engagement between the brand and fan following."
Grazyna Koscielska, also a director at Stimulii, says the concept works best with established brands, where “the client has to be content with being one of many products on the table".
She says it allows brands to move away from “telling” to “sharing”.
South African film producers have not caught on to the concept yet as local films “tend to deal with sad or negative story lines", says Moon.
Negative story lines make it difficult to promote brands.
Chauke says clients can save a lot in production fees because all that is required is to engage with the producers of TV programmes to negotiate placement.
Though it is a cheaper alternative to the 30-second commercial, Chauke says the concept is still met with scepticism by most companies as the industry has not matured.
And because of the economic downturn, clients expect to see a direct link between marketing and its contribution to the bottom line.
Fast-moving consumer goods, such as shampoo and household cleaning products, are the most commonly used products for placement. Koscielska says these are the easiest to integrate because they are not difficult to reconcile with viewer demographics.
Moon says in order for product placement to work properly, context and natural integration are very important aspects. “The consumer should never question the presence or use of a product — if it jars then there is something wrong with the way the concept has been put together."
Though product placement has not been fully explored in SA, Moerdyk says local broadcasters should be applauded for having the foresight to embrace such strategies. Countries such as the UK only allow placement in video-on-demand programmes and films produced outside the country.
Moerdyk says product placement can be intelligent marketing, which can be good for TV networks struggling to produce quality content with tight budgets. “If done subtly and properly, broadcasters could use product placement as a way of securing entertaining and good quality content at minimal or no cost," he says.
Moerdyk says there is a big difference between an advertorial and excellent brand integration, and the two should never be confused.
He says advertising agencies and television networks should apply stringent rules and not allow their clients to overexpose products at the expense of their audiences.
courtesy of http://www.businessday.co.za