Although product placements in movies are supposed to be seamless and integrate well into the story line, most viewers can recognize an advertisement within a movie when they see one. Product placements are highly successful and without them, many movies wouldn’t receive the funding necessary to bring the film to the general market.
The first movie to win a Best Picture Oscar, a film called Wings which was released in 1927, had a product placement in it for a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
Product Placement in Movies
Why choose to pay for a product placement? There is one simple goal in mind for companies that place their products into movies. They hope that moviegoers will see the item in the movie, want it, and then go purchase it. Do product placements really work?
- The U.S. is the largest and fastest growing paid product placement market. It showed revenues of $1.5 Billion in 2005, $2.9 Billion in 2007, and $3.7 Billion in 2008.
- 2009 figures doubled 2008 figures in the United States.
- Branded content comprised 32% of overall marketing, advertising, and communications budgets.
- 60% of moviegoers feel more positive about brands that they recognized in a placement.
- Interest in advertising appearing in product placement in movies is reported to be of at least some interest to 31.2% of moviegoers.
- 20%. That’s the increase in brand awareness that can be expected from the inclusion of a product placement in a movie.
- Product placements on emotionally engaging programs are recognized by 43% more viewers than movies that would be described as “eye candy.”
- More frequent viewers and viewers who enjoy a movie more will pay attention to product placements in the movie on a more frequent basis.
- 68% of product placements last for 5 seconds or less, but the average time of a product placement on camera is 6.2 seconds.
- The percentage of product placements that are visual and auditory: 3.1%
- 71.4% of product placements on television are paid.
The growth of product placements in the movies has been outstanding in the last 10 years. With growth rates doubling some years in the form of revenues, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that helps brands get in touch with some specific target demographics. When a product placement is interesting, has value to the consumer, and is in line with what a movie’s plot happens to be, then many times the actual product placement isn’t even noticed. When that happens, consumers feel a connection to a brand and recognize it without realizing why they are able to recognize it. Is this an ethical practice? Or just another form of advertising that is similar to television ads, listings in the Yellow Pages, or even PPC follow-along campaigns on the internet? However someone may feel about product placements, there is one fact that is for certain: it works.
There Have Been Some Huge Product Placement Successes
- In the 1983 film Risky Business, Tom Cruise wears a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses that have become iconic with the start of his career. In 1981, Ray-Ban sold 18,000 units and thought about discontinuing the line. After the film, 360,000 units were sold.
- After 60 different product placements into film and TV shows over the next 5 years, Ray-Ban sold 1.5 million pairs of Wayfarers in FY 1986.
- Hershey agreed to have Reese’s Pieces be used in the 1982 film E.T., which would become one of the highest grossing films of all time. Their profits went up 65% in just one year as a result.
- In the 2003 remake of The Italian Job where Mini Coopers were used, BMW saw a sales increase of 22% over the previous year, even though the movie only saw moderate levels of success.
- Tom Cruise also promoted Ray-Ban products in Top Gun, boosting sales of their Aviator sunglasses by 40% after the film’s release.
- The US Navy also stated that the film’s release resulted in a number of new recruits for their pilot programs.
- BMW signed a three film deal to have their Z3 featured in film, one of them being the James Bond movie GoldenEye. The vehicle hadn’t even been released to the market yet, but the movie resulted in 9,000 pre-orders for the new car.
- The Autobot version of the Chevy Camaro that has appeared in Transformers films created so much buzz that over 60,000 units were sold by the end of 2009.
- The Etch-A-Sketch inclusion in Toy Story raised sales by 4500%. Mr. Potato Head saw a respectable 800% increase as well.
- After a product placement in The Apprentice, Pontiac hoped to move 1,000 Solstice brand vehicles in 10 days. It only took them 41 minutes.
When product placement is done correctly, there can be a huge potential of success for the company making the placement. Why does this happen? Because moviegoers get the chance to see the product in action and they can feel like a movie start when they’re using the product. How many people today still pretend to be Tom Cruise from Risky Business wearing their Ray-Bans while doing some air guitar in their underwear? Or even think about how Pizza Hut was able to create cravings for their product with a simple Wayne’s World product placement. The key to a good placement is to make sure the item is noticed, but doesn’t become the star of the show. If the product becomes too visible, then bad things can potentially happen.
Product Placements Can Go Horribly Wrong
- The Superman franchise was already on its way out when The Quest For Peace was released in 1987. The scene where Dunkin’ Donuts cups can be seen everywhere did nothing for the franchise.
- In the 2002 release of Spiderman, a Carlsborg truck just happens to be where the superhero lands after swinging through the city.
- Tom Cruise makes another appearance thanks to Days of Thunder and the Mello Yellow jumpsuit that he always wore.
- Gun Crazy, a black and white film from 1949, might win the award for the most attempts at product placement without success. The film takes place in an Armour plant, there’s a Bulova clock that dominates a scene, and make sure to catch the watches on everyone’s wrists as well.
- The Iron Man franchise is like a who’s who list of sponsorships. From fast food places to news magazines to websites, everyone got involved on this one. Considering the popularity of Marvel studios, however, it’s difficult to blame them.
- “Is it a Hemi?” Johnny Blaze asks in Fantastic Four 2. Enough said.
- In Demolition Man, Taco Bell branding is everywhere. They’re the only winners of the restaurant wars. “Every restaurant is a Taco Bell,” Sandra Bullock’s character says.
- If the plot connection and the reflection of the user or character in the film are missing, the product placement often is futile.
Who can forget about the unique Chicago Cubs product placement in Back to the Future II when they win the World Series – after moving to Hill Valley? Some product placements are so bad that they’re funny and everything winds up being a-ok. Then there are those product placements that are so terrible that they actually damage the integrity of the brand. That’s the issue with many of this placements. Moviegoers know that they are a cheap nod to a brand name so that the producers of the film can get a quick buck. Considering the amount of money that is required to put a product into a movie, there is a lot at stake – even if the costs are less than a traditional television advertisement.
How Much Does It Cost To Place A Product In A Movie?
- The standard product placement cost for a brief movie mention runs an average of $22,000 per placement.
- $392,500. That’s the average cost to produce a traditional television commercial and run it on a national campaign.
- The average number of viewers who will watch a movie at least once, whether it is in the theater, on DVD, or streamed digitally: 120 million.
- Only 15 million people typically watch the average television commercial, accounting for just 10% of the total audience.
- For the 23rd James Bond movie that is planned, the total amount of funds generated from product placements is expected to exceed $45 million.
- $24.6 billion. That’s the amount of money that film studios were able to raise in 2009 just from products.
- What is the #1 brand that is featured in most modern top grossing films? Apple. They appeared in 30% of the 33 films that reached #1 status in 2010.
- Film and television product placements both generate an average response and action rate of 25-30%.
- Why is branding important? Kids in the 3-5 age demographic preferred the branded food items over the non-branded items, showing how people can be swayed by advertising.
The benefits of product placement are pretty clear. When you put a product in a movie, you’re getting an almost 100% viewing audience. The statistics say that it is 100%, but if you’re a parent who takes a toddler to a film, you know for a fact that you’re going to miss portions of the movie whether you’re at the theater or watching it at home. Bathroom breaks happen. Compared to television advertisements, however, where people routinely get up to take a break, find a snack, or just use a device like the Hopper from Dish Network to skip the ads altogether, the viewing rates are easily 9x higher in the movies. Billions might be spent, but billions are definitely going to come back in return if the movie is a hit and the product placement isn’t too egregious.
Product Placements Have Evolved Over The Years
- In the 1950s, it was not uncommon for entire television shows or movies to be completely underwritten by one specific company.
- The first product placements that are documented come from literature, as Jules Vern mentions specific agencies in his novel Around the World in 80 Days.
- TV product placements add an additional $10 billion of revenue into producer wallets.
- In Jurassic Park, one scene shows a store full of souvenirs at the park that were already available in stores in real life.
- Spaceballs made fun of product placements regularly, even having their characters access an already made movie on VHS as a key plot turning point.
- 57.5% of viewers recognized a brand when viewing a product placement in combination with a commercial
- The average consumer is exposed to 3,000 brands a day, meaning that a relationship must be formed with a moviegoer through a meaningful plot to stand out above all the marketing noise.
- Today’s moviegoer becomes most concerned when they see movie product placements for controversial products such as alcohol, cigarettes, and guns.
Most audiences don’t mind a product placement if it is a natural fit to what they are watching. Sometimes all it takes is a simple throw away line. In Dolphin Tale 2, for example, a USDA official is criticizing the aquarium director for the condition of his facilities. In prominent, center frame view is a Mug root beer. The camera holds the shot for a 3-4 seconds to make sure that the fact a Mug root beer is being consumed. On the way out of the scene, the USDA inspectors says “Hey. Thanks for the root beer.” Suddenly the unnatural becomes natural. This evolution has helped movies be able to offset potential losses, make moviegoers feel good about purchases they make, and create new revenue streams for products that could be on the brink of failure. It’s a win/win/win situation, but only if the products aren’t being blatantly shoved down the throats of moviegoers without apology.
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