If you are conversing with your loved one, and a friend appears out of nowhere to sneak into your conversation, how would you feel?
If you are friends with someone for a long duration and you finally realise, he/she had a different motive to bond with you, how would you feel?
If you have a person who will always hold your hand silently, irrespective of the situation, how would you feel?
Annoyed. Disappointed. Valued.
For most of us, answers are going to be in this order for the above questions.
Now, revisit these questions as a brand (friend) and answer them as your customer (you) would.
Suppose you choose a documentary or a short film to enhance your brand visibility and awareness. What do you think your audience would like to see? You, or the film? Often, a film acts like the perfect playground for your brand to play. That is why brands are tempted to leverage them for their own benefit. If done cleverly, this temptation leads to an effective marketing strategy and the product stays in people’s minds even after the movie is over. But sometimes, when brands make their products look like the protagonists, it not only affects the movie but also the brand. Because the audience is present for an experience. If it appears to them that they are being tricked into making an expense and moreover compelled to do it, your dreams of being a blockbuster could be busted!
A peek into a refrigerator with your products, or a character cooking a dish using your product make the product placement look natural. In short, your product should be serving a purpose to the character on the screen. In Transformers, there is a hero who has elevated the script and the revenue of the brand after the movie released. None other than, Chevrolet Camaro. The sole reason is the ability of the makers to integrate the features of this vehicle seamlessly with the goals of the characters in the movie. It does not come across as an advertisement, but a valuable addition to the lives of the actors. No wonder their sales spiked up after their debut performance in the movie! Another brand which cracked this technique is Ray-Ban when they placed their stylish glasses on Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun. Now if he wears it and carries it off effortlessly, who would not want to try, right? Well played, Ray-Ban, well played!
This looks pretty easy. But in reality, not so much. There exist a few movies which seem to have been made only to amplify the visibility of a certain brand. If the Power Rangers movie released in 2017 looks like the brand film of Krispy Kreme to you, you cannot be blamed. The entire movie is centred around it to such an extent that the final scene also has an unnecessary appearance by Krispy Kreme. Speaking of irrelevant mentions, we cannot miss the movie Little Nicky which apparently looks like a commercial for Popeye’s Chicken! In these cases, a guidebook could have been useful, we think.
The rules of product placement are simple if brands choose not to complicate it. First and foremost, take the leap into movies or documentaries only if you can create a valuable impact. Extending a 30-second ad into a 30-minute movie is not the ideal way to do it. If needed, start small, experiment with your audience, and then make the jump to the big screen. Blend the product in a way that it looks meaningful and not like a mere bystander. For instance, your brand could act as a sponsor of an event conducted in the movie or the go-to brand because the actor believes in perfection or value your brand reflects. No matter what route you choose, ensure your marketing is consistent in and out of the movie. The brand voice, the core message and the brand image should not be different just because you are starring in a movie!
Basically, look like someone who happened to be there and added value, instead of someone who desperately wanted to be there as those two kinds of friends mentioned in the beginning of this blog.