Product Placement Case Study

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The last couple of years or even decades saw the proliferation of product placements in American television programs. Whether it is reality TV, soap operas, dramas, variety shows or children's program, advertisers have come up with various strategies to ensure that their products are widely seen on television. Product placement is the purposeful incorporation of commercial content into noncommercial settings, that is, a product plug generated via the fusion of advertising and entertainment (Williams, Petrosky, Hernandez, & Page 2011). This mode of advertising is also known as plug or incorporating commercials into television shows and even films. The number of product placements in prime-time television programs rose 13% in 2007 (Kang 2008) [and] as the placement industry approaches an estimated $1 billion a year, products are even advancing the plots, a practice called 'script integration' (Gillin 2005)." For instance, the famous reality television singing show American Idol would not be complete without the ubiquitous Coca-Cola glasses in front of the three judges. In most of the children's television shows, breakfast would never be complete without the branded cereals or the milk poured on them bearing the logo or manufacturer name of product sponsors. Like most advertising milieus, product placement is done to entice viewers to be informed of the product with the hope of capturing the target market. Definitely, product placement has been an effective and efficient means of advertising despite the minimal exposure the products have on television shows where unlike actual commercials that can run from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

TOPIC: Case Study on Case Study of Product Placement Assignment

The target market or demographics of Product Placement varies depending upon the television show. In action television shows where car chases are profound, "zooming-in or lingering on the brand label (i.e. In this case the car), to highlight the brands when filming these 'key' placements, is obvious and intrusive, particularly when the screen is filled with gratuitously with close-ups of them to the exclusion of anything or anyone else (ed. Galician 2004)." A case in point is the forensic television show Bones where the lead characters, Dr. Temperance Brennan and FBI Special Agent Seely Booth, are seen driving Toyota automobiles, a Toyota Prius for the former and a Toyota Sequoia for the latter. Although the functionalities of each automobiles have nothing to do with the overall plot of any episode of the series, there have been scenes where the characters were demonstrating the features of each of the vehicles they drive. These particular product placements target two different demographics; for the Toyota Sequoia, the target are the rugged and adventurous individuals while the Prius appeals to the successful urban professionals who want energy efficient vehicles.

When the target audience of the product are children, it will not be surprising to see toys, children's clothing and even junk food in various scenes of these television shows. Indeed, viewers are bombarded with these product plugs because advertisers have realized the value for their money of product placements in American television programs compared to the conventional 30 second to one minute commercials. This is especially relevant information especially since "more than two-thirds of DVR users skip some commercials, and more than three-quarters of that group skip most of them, so advertisers wonder whether it makes sense to spend $175,000 for a half-minute ad - the average cost on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox - when they can invest in a plug that cannot be zapped (Gillin 2005)." Aside from this, conventional television advertising is time bound wherein the ad lasts only for a specified period. Product placements in television shows go further especially when the show goes into reruns for years on end. In addition, the captive market becomes bigger when these American television shows go into international syndication and peoples from other countries become new target markets of the product placements.

In the last example presented in the preceding paragraph, product placements can be deemed as promoting the diminishment of the cultural divide amongst nations. This is particularly true if for example an American teenage television show having several product placements from clothing, food to electronic gadgets currently in vogue with the American youth; the viewership from other nations or cultures will have a better understanding of the latest fad and fashion American teenagers are into. There are both positive and negative effects to this situation. On the negative ones first, teens or youth from other cultures might emulate the American way of life and consider the lifestyle presented as cool. On the other hand, the positive effect is generally the understanding of a culture different from those international viewers have. With much of the popular culture and programming infiltrating from overseas, particularly the United States, the question of brand migration is also posed. Others noted that global integration of brands poses significant logistical difficulties. (Sherman 2010) Thus, the controversy therein may be in terms of international viewers appreciating American made products rather than those locally manufactured -- this is all because of the effects of product placements that have proliferated American television shows syndicated abroad. The Nielsen Company reckons there were 541 brands and 2,029 'unique product integrations' in U.S. shows that aired in the UK on just three networks -- Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky1 -- in the past year (Sweeney 2011). This becomes a major challenge to UK manufacturers that have to ensure that they can match the proliferation of product placements by U.S. brands in the UK market.

From the examples provided above, it is clear that product placements in American television not only provide information to the viewership but promotes cultural understanding as well despite some controversies and debates. These debates and controversies have initially been discussed especially along the lines of appreciating American products more rather than the local ones by international audiences. The impact of product placement on audiences will vary, of course, depending upon their level of sophistication, familiarity with ad campaigns, and longevity in making purchase decisions (Saladino 2008). However, there may be a case of "keeping up with the Joneses" as the American adage goes especially when viewers of American television programs with product placements start trying to imitate the American way of life. Even worst, these audience may even spend their meager earnings on the high-ticketed American products they have seen on American television because they wanted that particular lifestyle those placed products are showing. This then promotes the negative side of American mentality whereby the international viewership begins thinking that what is American is better!

Although the impact of product placement in American television programs is overwhelming, this is balanced by foreign television shows appearing in the United States that have their share of product placements. Even if the target market of these foreign shows appearing on American television are specific cultural groups in the United States, their effects are decisive since this particular viewership also number in the millions. What ensues then is that the effects of product placements in American television programs are balanced by these "competing" foreign programs and provides for more choices for the viewers. Thus, a particular target market may appreciate American Idol's placement of Coca-Cola on the show but the same target market watching a Latin telenovela may also be persuaded to appreciate the local soft drinks sold in Latin American countries that are available in the United States. This countering effect is the result of globalization and migration that accorded advertising value not only for American products but foreign ones as well especially they are getting a slice of the market when these foreign television programs are shown in the United States. In addition, not because American products are placed in American television programs mean that they are exclusive thereto. Foreign products can do likewise in the same manner as there are advertisements of foreign… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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