Why we should be Pro-active about Product Placement

Back in May 2011 I wrote a piece on the new code of conduct for product placement in Ireland.

What does the Irish market look like over 2 years after that code was published?

Who is doing what?

RTÉ still don’t have clear guide lines or a sales team specialising in product placement. There are bespoke offers on a programme and client basis but mostly through independent production houses who sell programmes to RTÉ.  In Nov 2011 RTE signed a 3 year deal with Spar to revamp the Fair City corner shop and since the €900K they received for that there hasn’t been any other significant deals.

TV3 have two product placements on air at the moment Kenco Coffee sponsor the mugs on The Morning Show and Kellogg’s have P.P. in their ‘Breakfast with’ segment on Ireland AM. There are some upcoming TV3 shows currently offering P.P. like, Celebrity Apprentice and The Great Irish Bake off.

After a slow start, 2012 saw the UK market really starting to move with the broadcasters leading the change.  Channel 4’s teen soap Hollyoaks teamed up with L’Oreal. ITV’s Dancing on Ice have signed Highland Spring water, the furniture store DFS have kitted out the This Morning studios and Nationwide have just signed to provide the ATM machine in Dev’s corner shop on Coronation St. for the 2nd year.

Why has there been a slow start in Ireland?

Firstly, we have to note that marketing budgets are under a lot more pressure in the last few years, so Irish marketers don’t have the luxury of budgets to test the waters. Because of this most of the clients involved in P.P. in the market are international clients who have experience from other markets and know the benefits.

P.P. has to be part of the overall marketing plan and fit in with the brand strategy   However, I am still surprised there are not more production companies and broadcasters knocking on our client’s door asking about strategies and coming back with bespoke ideas.

Product placement is something most brands should think about investigating in some manner, whether it is a small piece online or being part of a big TV show. The opportunities and creativity are endless when you chose the right partner. Most of the time when I speak to broadcasters or clients about product placement the same concerns are raised ‘We need to be cautious… It has to be the right opportunity… We don’t want to be in the viewer/customers face’. Of course these concerns are fair and need to be addressed but to get it right everyone involved has to be creative, open to exploring the endless options and ready to take some risks.

Across the Atlantic

We need to look to America and remember all those TV shows and movies that Irish viewers have grown up with where brands were centre stage. Did you ever complain about it? Or maybe you didn’t even notice!

Did you know the boat used in the classic TV show The Love Boat was part of the Princess Cruises group, this P.P. ran from 1977-1986 but because the placement was so profitable they used ‘The Love Boat’ in their company slogans until 2002! Kitt from Knight Rider was a Trans Am car from General Motors, making the model one

‘Absolut Hunk’ campaign on Sex and the City.

of the most sought after cars in the 1980’s.

From more recent classics, can you remember which episodes involved these brands… Friends – Pottery Barn and Ralph Lauren,Sex and the City – Apple Mac, Jimmy Choo, Absolute Vodka and Cup Cake makers Magnolia Bakery; and Mad Men – Heineken and Smirnoff.

In 2012, the U.S. product placement industry accounted for nearly $5 billion (the U.S. TV advertising market is about €65 billion to put it into context) and is one of the fastest growing alternative marketing solutions.

Sex And The City Product Placement

What next? 

As the world changes, we need to find more creative ways of getting brands top of mind with their target audience. But it is not just brands who have an invested interest in the future of marketing budgets, broadcasters and production companies do too, as they find it harder and harder to get the funding needed to make new shows advertisers money will become more important in the production process.

Product placement is just one way to be involved in the production process. Over the next few years clients, broadcasters, production companies and agencies will have to embrace each other and work together to make this a common place marketing solution in Ireland.  I don’t believe the public will notice a big shift if it is done right. Of course like everything there will be learning’s along the way.

Advertisers and media agencies need to get out there and push the broadcasters and production companies to come up with creative solutions to fit in with their brand strategies.

If we can all work together to take a really considered and collaborative approach to build campaigns that work for everyone involved, including the viewer, we will have cracked it!

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