Literature Review on Product Placement
Within the field of advertisement, as the audience fragmentation and message clutter became more severe in traditional media outlets, the marketers began looking for alternative ways to advertise products or services. Among the new marketing communication tools, Product Placement has evolved, being utilized most frequently these days (Choi 2007).
Product Placement (PP) is defined as “a paid product message aimed at influencing movie audiences via the planned and unobtrusive entry of a branded product into a movie” (Balasubramanian, 1994, p.29). Although PP first appeared over 100 years ago, its growth accelerated during the 1980s when movie producers became aware of its commercial value (Brennan, Dubas, & Babin, 1999; Segrave 2004, latter sited in Choi 2007). Thereafter, product placement expanded to become a highly prevalent marketing tactic featured not only in movies and on television but also in books, songs, video games, and web blogs (Choi 2007).
What was once “a sporadic barter arrangement” (p.324) for lowering film and television production costs is now a vehicle for multimillion-dollar integrated promotional campaigns (Schneider and Cornwell, 2005). To further support the statement, Jennifer Bydwell, the leading product placement expert, predicts that film producers will become much more aggressive in their use of placements. That explains the enormous number of research studies conducted on this particular aspect of advertising.
There is little or no doubt about the effectiveness of PP. In fact, it is, or will soon become, more effective than the traditional ways of advertising as Sangers (2009) explains that our exposure to vast traditional ads is like “being around a certain loud noise for a long period; eventually become desensitized to it” (p.1). Because in movies, brands are placed “in a realistic dramatic setting in which the viewer is already emotionally involved,” (p.13) PP has and keeps attracting many manufacturers (Maslin 1982, cited in Choi 2007). Turcotte (2005) also explains, in favor of PP efficiency, that the audiences are exposed to products in less distracted environments and become familiar with them over a longer period of time. As the audiences are involved into the movie content, their subconscious mind “picks things up” at an incredible pace and “feeds them right into the brain” (Sangers 2009). Examples to confirm aforementioned statements are the claimed 65 percent increase in sales of Reese’s Pieces following the E.T: Extra-Terrestrial’s release (Karrh 1998 cited in Choi 2007) and BMW total revenue of $270 million return from its investment of $20 million on the placement campaign surrounding the launch of its Z3 roadster (Eisenstein, 1997).
Yet there exists another school of authors that oppose the effectiveness of PP. Some even argue that PP is an “art imitating art imitating life” scenario – where ads are imitating the practice of product placement (Neer 2008). Another argument that they hold is that of persuasiveness of ads. Friestad and Wright (1994, cited in Choi 2007) worked out a persuasion knowledge model, which posits that when users recognize and identify a message as a persuasive communication attempt, they process it differently than they would if they were unaware of its commercial intent. Since audience members are aware of the blurring of distinctions between the informing and persuading aspects of mass media, they may consciously prepare themselves to automatically reject the exposed product or brand in movies (Choi 2007).
A third school of authors does not oppose but acknowledges the efficiency of PP yet disapproves its practice. They claim that the film has become a long commercial and lost its basic purpose, and even more, it has lost its status as piece of art. They also argue that the movies have the power to affect mood and social judgments, even if only for a short period of time (Forgas and Moylan, 1987), which makes it possible for powerful enterprises to alter the public attitudes as they see fit. Furthermore, parents are worried about their children’s exposure to ads. “We’ve had a long discussion about advertising to children … but movies have fallen under the radar,” says Lisa Sutherland, a leading Child Psychologist (Dotinga 2010).
Despite the varying opinions, findings of majority of the works reveal that the effectiveness of PP is influenced by several variables. Those variables contain prominence and mode, product category, sponsor image, movie genre, and sponsor-program congruity (Gupta and Gould, 1997; Gupta and Lord, 1998; d’Astous and Séguin, 1999, all cited in Choi 2007). Many works find that PPs integral to a storyline are remembered more frequently and evaluated more positively compared to those that are less relevant to the plot (Brennan, Dubas, and Babin, 1999; d’Astous and Séguin, 1999; d’Astous & Chartier, 2000, last two cited in Choi 2007). Going even deeper into the study, Avery and Ferraro (2000) found that the most positive portrayals were those involving use and mention of a brand by a movie main character. Moreover, findings of Michael Wiles’ study (2009, cited in King 2009) reveal that when a product is successfully placed in feature films, the company that makes it enjoys a dramatic boost in its stock prices.
Even in Uzbekistan, movies have already begun portraying products or brands. However, it is likely that the present PP in locally produced movies do not meet the PP definition by Balasubramanian (1994) that defines it as “a paid product message aimed at influencing movie audiences via the planned and unobtrusive entry of a branded product into a movie” (p.29). Also, there are more than ten articles on the topic of product placement for Uzbekistan environment. However, majority of the articles are only opinion pieces, which are merely expressing disapproval and distaste (Alimova 2009; Saidhodja 2009; Makhkamov 2009). Hardly any of them studies the PP in Uzbekistan as a means of effective advertising tool. Specifically, Alimova (2009) says that “the secondary characters are purposefully advertising perfume in ‘Sevginator’ in a way no different from those ten-second traditional ads. This shouldn’t be allowed in movies” (p 9).
Ali, (2006), Top 10 Worst Movies for Product Placement, Available at: http://www.theshiznit.co.uk/feature/top-10-worst-movies-for-product-placement.php
Alimova Nargiza, (2009), Advertisement enters into Movies, 7x7 , #1317, 26/10/2009.
Arango Tim, (2010), Time Warner’s Movies Help It Swing to a Profit, Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/business/media/04warner.html
Avery, R. J., and R. Ferraro (2000). Verisimilitude or Advertising? Brand Appearance on Prime-Time Television. The Journal of Consumer Affairs 34(2): 217-244.
Balasubramanian, S. K. (1994). Beyond Advertising and Publicity: Hybrid Messages and Public Policy Issues. Journal of Advertising 23(4): 29-46.
Brennan I., K. M. Dubas, and L.A. Babin, (1999), The Influence of Product Placement Type and Exposure Time on Product Placement Recognition, International Journal of Advertising 18(1): 323-337.
Choi Seoyoon, (2007), Effectiveness of Product Placement: The Role of Plot Connection, Product Involvement, and Prior Brand Evaluation, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, San Francisco, CA, May 23, 2007, Available at: http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p172808_index.html
d'Astous, A., and F. Chartier (2000). A study of Factors Affecting Consumer Evaluations and Memory of Product Placements in Movies. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 22(2): 31-40.
Dotinga Randy, (2010), Movies Loaded with Images of Junk Food, Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/635779.html
Forgas, J. P., and Moylan, S. J., (1987). After the movies: the effects of transient mood states on social judgments, Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 13 No. 4, 467-477
Gupta, P. B., and S. J. Gould (1997). Consumers' Perceptions of the Ethics and Acceptability of Product Placements in Movies: Product Category and Individual Differences. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 19(1): 37-50.
Gupta, P. B., and K. R. Lord (1998). Product Placement in Movies: The Effect of Prominence and Mode on Audience Recall. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 20(1): 47-59.
Interview with product placement expert Jennifer Bydwell, Available at: http://www.brandhype.org/MovieMapper/Resources/ImThereToo.jsp
Karrh, J. A. (1998), Brand Placement: A Review. Journal of Current Issues and research in Advertising, Vol. 20, Issue 2, p.32-49
King James, (2009), Advertising in Movies Expected to Double, Available at: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/07/just_when_you_thought_it_was_s.php
Lowry Tom and Helm Burt, (2009), Blasting Away at Product Placement, BusinessWeek, Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_43/b4152060060411.htm
Makhkamov Sodiq, (2009), Advertisement is a business, too, 7x7 , #1312, 03/05/2009.
Maslin, J. (1982). Plugging Products in Movies as an Applied Art. New York Times: C11.
Neer Katherine, (2008), How Product Placement Works, Available at: http://money.howstuffworks.com/product-placement.htm
Saidhodja Behzod, (2009), Everywhere-Ads, 7 Iqlim , 13/08/2009.
Sangers Tom, (2009), The Best Advertising in Movies, Available at: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Best-Advertising-in-Movies&id=2478285
Schneider, L-P., and Cornwell, T. B. (2005). Cashing in on crashes via brand placement in computer games. International Journal of Advertising, 24, 321-343.
Schwanke Crystal, (2009), Movies and Advertising, Available at: http://movies.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Movies_and_Advertising
Segrave, K. (2004). Product Placement in Hollywood Films: A History. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Simmons Market Research Bureau (1991). Study of Media and Markets. New York.
Steinbrunner Jeff, (2008), The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History, Available at: http://www.cracked.com/article_16574_the-10-most-shameless-product-placements-in-movie-history.html
Turcotte, S. (1995). Gimme a Bud! The Feature Film Product Placement Agency. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin.