Why Product Placement is Important for Businesses


Back in 2011 a Nescafé coffee machine appeared on ITV show This Morning — hardly something worth writing home about. The significance of the positioning of this hot drink’s dispenser was far more than Eamonn Holmes simply having easy access to a flat white. This was the first time in which product placement was used on British television. A ban which had been in place for a number of years, promoted by Church leaders and doctors across the nation, had finally be lifted. However, there still exists a host of red-tape around the area. For example, the BBC is not allowed to use product placement. Any time it is used on other channels, screens must display a ‘P’ to notify viewers, and, certain products cannot be used — alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, and junk food — as promoting these could ultimately be damaging to development.

Eight year on from the ban being lifted and Co-Operative shopping bags and Costa Coffee cups are a staple of the Weatherfield set on Coronation Street, while, McCain’s chips regularly feature on the dinner table in Emmerdale. Despite the fact broadcast regulator OFCOM doesn’t keep data in regard to the amount of viewing hours dedicated to product placement, it is easy to see the impact the marketing concept has had. Back in 2015, ITV admitted that since the ban had been lifted, they had scheduled more than 4,000 hours of programming which involved product placement.

Despite the negative criticism which product placement may receive, a survey conducted by TRP Research in 2018, discovered that only 27 per cent of viewers had noticed it. 67 per cent said they don’t mind the marketing strategy if they do recognise it, while, one respondent noted, “I don’t mind it it— it makes the programme more real and relatable”.

From chocolate bars to luxury cars, in this article, we take a look at product placements position in the modern media, examining costs versus worth for businesses.

Stranger Things

The American Netflix series Stranger Things, now in its third season, is one of the most popular talking points in the modern media in 2019. Despite a gripping plot and undeniably talented acting delivered through the show’s young cast, viewers were quick to point the sheer multitude of brands which featured.

In a report generated by Concave Brand Tracking, it was estimated that the brand placement included in the third series was worth more than $15 million. The top ten visible labels were:

  • Adidas
  • Burger King
  • Cadillac
  • Casio
  • Chevrolet
  • Coca-Cola
  • Pentax
  • Reebok
  • Sharp
  • 7-Eleven

Due to the record-breaking viewership which Stranger Things attracts and the fact advertising is significantly cheaper on Netflix , Dominic Artzrouni, director of Concave, suggests “the ROI numbers are making brands very happy”. Artzrouni goes on to draw upon the fact none of the products which are referenced were paid for by third parties and are all part of the show, which regularly calls upon ‘80s consumer culture.

Love Island

It seems like a lifetime ago that Love Island featured the likes of Calum Best, Lee Sharpe, and Liz McLarnon. The inaugural generation of the show, which has since been revamped, failed to emulate the success of its successor. Returning for a fifth series in its second generation, Love Island has successfully established itself as a brand in itself. It should come as no surprise that a host of companies have invested heavily to get their own slice of the reality pie.

Kantar Social Media Intelligence reported that the ITV series was the most talked about show on Twitter in 2018. However, not even the producers could have predicted the growth of the show in 2019. 3.7 million people tuned in to watch the first episode on 3rd June. Added to those who viewed the show through ITV Hub, the online streaming service, to the viewing figure came in at 4.2 million — a considerable 1.3 million more than sat down to indulge in it some 12 months previous.

Health and beauty retailer Superdrug were the headline sponsor for the previous three years, striking up multi-million-pound deals. However, failed negotiations with the high-street store saw Love Island partner up with app-based takeaway company, Uber Eats. Reportedly, the delivery service paid more than £5m and their investment, despite what may seem financially intensive, makes considerable sense. During the first episode, 18.5 per cent of viewers that were watching TV at the time were watching Love Island. More importantly, for the brands who had invested, which include Lucozade, Ministry of Sound, and Samsung, 57 per cent of the demographic they were targeting that were watching television, 16-24 year old’s, were also tuned in.

GoldenEye, The Italian Job, Mission: Impossible

Other than including some of the most jaw-dropping Hollywood movie scenes of all time, while also including some of the suavest men in history, these three films all have a common connection — the BMW brand. Pierce Brosnan, Mark Wahlberg, and Tom Cruise all negotiated some fairly unbelievable tasks at the helm of a vehicle produced by the German manufacturer, who, similarly, build the stylish BMW X5.

Despite remaining faithful to the Aston Martin until 1995, it was inevitable that 007 was going to eventually swap driving position and get behind the wheel of the luxury BMW. Many seen the Bavarian company’s investment of $3 million a risk —if the movie release was to be delayed, the featured Z3 would be an outdated concept. But, their gamble paid dividends, and returned approximately $240 million in sales. Not only did profits rise like Bond’s passenger ejector seat, the brand built successfully built upon an already distinguished reputation.

In regard to the Italian Job remake in 2003, film critic Stephanie Zacharek noted, “the real start of The Italian Job is not a person but a car”. After providing more than thirty different Minis, to whom BMW are the owner, the final scene of the movie, one of the most exhilarating car chases to come out of Hollywood, which featured three different coloured models, BMW’s sales increased 22 per cent the following year.

There is no denying that product placement plays a significant role in the media, however, has it gone too far and started destructing the naturality of shows?