The strategic placement of products within entertainment content for promotional purposes.

Product placement, also known as embedded marketing, is a marketing technique where a brand’s product or service is subtly incorporated into a form of media, such as movies, television shows, video games, music videos, or even social media posts [1, 2, 3]. The goal is to showcase the product or service in a natural way, so it blends seamlessly with the storyline or setting, and reaches a large audience without feeling like a traditional advertisement.

Here’s a closer look at how product placement works, the different forms it can take, and the advantages and disadvantages for both brands and media outlets:

How Product Placement Works:

  • Brand Integration: Brands collaborate with production companies or studios to integrate their products into the media content. This can involve featuring the product being used by characters, having characters discuss the brand, or displaying the product prominently within the scene.
  • Compensation: In exchange for product placement, brands typically pay the production company or studio a fee or provide the products themselves. The cost of product placement can vary depending on the popularity of the media content, the prominence of the placement, and the target audience.

Types of Product Placement:

  • Visual Placement: The most common type, where the product is simply shown being used or displayed within the scene.
  • Verbal Placement: Characters in the media content mention the brand name or discuss the product’s features.
  • Plot Integration: The product becomes an integral part of the storyline, playing a functional role in the plot.

Advantages of Product Placement for Brands:

  • Increased Brand Awareness: Product placement exposes a large audience to the brand in a way that can feel more natural and engaging than traditional advertising.
  • Positive Brand Association: If the product is featured in a well-liked show or movie, it can create positive brand associations and enhance brand image.
  • Reaching Target Audience: Product placement can be targeted to reach specific demographics or consumer segments that align with the brand’s ideal customer.
  • Subtle Marketing: Product placement can be a less intrusive way to advertise compared to traditional commercials, which viewers might skip or mute.

Advantages of Product Placement for Media Outlets:

  • Additional Revenue Stream: Product placement can be a lucrative source of income for studios and production companies.
  • Enhanced Realism: Well-integrated product placement can contribute to a more realistic portrayal of the world within the media content.

Disadvantages of Product Placement for Brands:

  • Lack of Control: Brands have limited control over how their product is portrayed in the media content.
  • Negative Associations: If the media content is poorly received or features the product in a negative light, it can damage the brand image.
  • Cost: Product placement, particularly in popular media, can be expensive.

Disadvantages of Product Placement for Viewers:

  • Subtle Manipulation: Some viewers may feel that product placement is a form of subtle manipulation, influencing their purchasing decisions without their conscious awareness.
  • Disrupts Viewing Experience: Overtly obvious product placement can take viewers out of the story and detract from their enjoyment of the media content.

Regulation of Product Placement:

  • Some countries have regulations in place regarding product placement, particularly regarding disclosure to viewers about sponsored content.