Monday, 02 May 2016 16:28

Product placement and Marvel’s Captain America – Civil War Featured

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First, let’s get the movie review over – it is great, has awesome action scenes - go and see it. Next, Captain America uses a little known VIVO phone and Tony Stark (Iron Man) uses a holo-capable VIVO device too.

VIVO’s X5Pro also made a guest appearance in The Martian last year. BBK Group owns OPPO and VIVO and globally these relatively new and unknown brands have shocked the smartphone world by becoming number four and five by market share of units shipped.

According to Concave Brand Tracking, Captain America – Civil War had 18% more Brand visibility than its 2014 predecessor CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. It also had more than past Marvel movies such as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), THOR (2011), IRON MAN 3 (2013), IRON MAN (2008) and MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012).

Of course there are many other brands and many other movies/TV shows/music videos/publications where Apple, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Polycom, Avaya, Ray-Ban, Oakley, FedEx, Mercedes, Mini, Ford, Dodge, Cadillac, VW, Harley Davidson, Fiji Water, Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks and many more regularly pay handsomely to share screen time.

Brand placement – also called embedded marketing or advertaiment - will only become greater as it is such a credible outlet. Why? According to the New York Film Academy because 66% of live/streaming TV viewers now skip/block/ignore advertisements and this increases to 90% when downloading shows for later watching. The result is that 78% of marketers feel that the effectiveness of TV advertising is declining.

According to Concave, however, it is not just about screen time but about how the product is used – does it add to the story line? For example, using an 84” Microsoft Surface Hub to solve a dilemma (House of Cards), or hooking up a Microsoft Lumia to control a runaway train (Scorpion) adds, even more, credibility. And then there is who uses it. Street cred comes from certain actors or even demographics – a Millennial using a Surface and not a Mac! Drilling down there are different metrics to measure effectiveness, recall, attitude change, purchase intention, negative effects, congruence (how used), character attractiveness, prominence, involvement, and then multiply that by demographic groups.

Back in January 2014, I wrote a piece titled ‘Microsoft is on the ascent – its cool to be a nerd’ and it was not so much about Microsoft as it was about movie and TV show product placement – which, by the way, many tech companies do.

In fact, in 2010 (have been unable to locate later stats) Apple reigned supreme in Hollywood films. It had product placement in 33 'number one' US box office films with 591 total brand or product appearances for an average of 17.9 placements per film. It took this further – Apple devices replaced generic computers in the IKEA catalogue and virtually ruled House of Cards, Sex in the City, and was even scripted into Modern Family – ‘It’s like God and Steve Jobs got together to say ‘We love you, Phil!’

Once it was cool to see an iPad whipped out to save the day, or to don a pair of distinctive red circle “beats’ headsets. Now advertising agencies match the right companies to the right movies, TV shows or video clips. In 2014, it was estimated that brand placement was a $73.27 billion market and rapidly growing.

There is also a new ‘metric’ similar to programmatic advertising that allows advertisers to reach the exact target audience using Big Data and correlating TV and social media metadata. Once booked these metrics monitor ‘down to pixel level’ actual product exposure.

Here is a selection or product placements over a couple of – note that more than 75% of popular TV shows have product placement.

  • Hawaii 5-0 uses Microsoft phones, Surface hybrids and a large Windows table computer that does some pretty cool stuff – not quite Minority Report – but getting there. For some unknown reason, camera shots tend to linger on the Microsoft logo and Bing searches are used.
  • Under the Dome – a take it or leave it Sci-fi series had three seasons also heavily Microsoft oriented.
  • House of Cards – the ultimate bad-ass president and his evil, but hot, wife use Apple – it was everywhere - phones, iPads, Macs, Beats, and even frequent shots of Apple stores. But in Season 4 OnePlus (BBK again) reportedly paid US$300K for 6.5 minutes of screen time. That was in addition to product placement payments by Apple, Samsung, Dell, BlackBerry, Microsoft, LG, Google and more. Samsung, however, has taken the gloss of Apple in series 4 with over 48 minutes of screen time giving it 30% more visibility.
  • Sherlock Holmes take off Elementary that is surprisingly good periodically morphs into an ad for Microsoft's Surface tablets, and they have been known to say ‘Bing it.'
  • James Bond Spectre used Sony to the exclusion of other IT brands. Of course, he needs an Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Omega watch, Bollinger and a certain style of Martini.

I could go on and on. But know this – a TV or movie studio does not need any permission (except in prohibited products like tobacco) to mention or use products. Screen time is not counted as advertising time, so it extends the revenue potential.

Various attempts by the Writers Guild of America fell on deaf ears as it objected to its members being forced to produce ‘ad copy.' Someone has to pay their wages.

So settle back and watch My Kitchen Rules or the same MasterChef on another channel and count product placements – you may not be so amazed that they make nearly as much from embedded marketing as they do from advertising.

Let us know if you notice any more – comment below.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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