Saturday, May 5, 2007

Some Last Words...

Spending a semester decoding product placement has indeed been an eye-opening experience. It is everywhere, even in some of a consumer’s most private places, and I didn’t even know it! It shocked me!

While product placement is indeed everywhere, what equally shocked me was the incredible need for it. Many argue that the technique intrudes on people’s lives in a world where advertising is already cluttered. They say that it is unnecessary and takes away from the original quality of a movie, TV show, etc. However, the advertising world is struggling very, very much and needs product placement desperately. TiVo is allowing people to skip through commercials; it is more than easy these days to click out of an Internet ad that pops up on a computer screen; also, consumers live day to day multi-tasking, so it’s more difficult for radio ads to be heard by its listeners, as they are doing a million other things while the ads is running in the background. With all of these new ways to “escape” advertising, businesses and products are finding much difficulty in advertising and getting their products into the market. This is where product placement comes into play.

Product placement is a very efficient and effective way to expose a product to its audience in places and times when they least expect it. As I said that traditional advertising is becoming more predictable and easier to get away from, there is no way of escaping product placement. From the Apple computer in Sex and the City to Corona inflatables on the beach during Spring Break to a Coca-Cola cup placed in front of Simon Cowell during American Idol, product placement is the best way to generate awareness and recognition of a brand without being too obvious. The method permits the consumer to see the brand name, acknowledge it is there, and make a mental note of it. When the placement is in a proper and unique setting, people are more likely to remember it when it comes time for a purchase, and hence a sale results!
So, that is why product placement has become so bizarre, so appealing to marketers, and so prevalent in our society – it has much opportunity for creativity and uniqueness. As I found, product placement can take the form of a video game, a book, a brand encompassed into a reality show, a ballpark, even Oprah is taking part in some product placement. The entire practice is out-of-the-ordinary and gives marketers the chance to break out of the traditional medium of advertising. They can then catch their audience in a different way where they will not only notice the brand, but, more importantly, remember it. All brands want to be remembered, and this is what product placement can do.

It will be interesting to see where the technique continues to go in the future. It is on the rise now, and I believe that it will continue to grow as technology becomes more advanced and advertising becomes even more difficult to do. As an Integrated Marketing Communications major, I can definitely use product placement to push and position a brand or client into the public eye, making consumers want more of it. I continuously find myself on the lookout for product placement now, as a trip to New York City a few weeks ago gave me much opportunity to do this. It was very interesting to find all of it, and it definitely was everywhere. The technique is fascinating to me and maybe, I will be the one breaking into your bathroom stall in a few years. Will that really be necessary, though? You may not think so, but how else can I get your attention?

Thanks for reading!! I enjoyed "Playing with Product Placement" very much and learning the blogosphere, too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Ad...In a Port-A-Potty???

In my dorm bathroom, someone posted a sign this weekend, telling us to wipe the seat after we use the toilet. Kind of random, I must say, to do this and place her concern on the back door of the stall, but I saw the sign very easily and read it! This little escapade in the stall got me thinking about my previous posts about car and board game product placement - also random and appealing mediums for placement. So, this made me delve into the world of bathroom product placement and advertising. And, easily enough, it was there and is becoming more and more common, too. Yes, indeed, marketers are coming to a bathroom stall near you!

I Googled 'bathroom advertising,' then 'bathroom product placement' and
this website came up for the American Restroom Association (that exists?). An article was posted at the bottom that talked about a wrapped Port-A-Potty, just like the wrapped cars. In 2006, a company who worked closely with the New York AIDS Walk obtained some portable bathrooms and covered them in bright red colors that marketed the walk. The information on the bathrooms created "a 360-degree visually stunning billboard effect" that was present in Central Park for one weekend and was used at the Indy 500, as well. In Central Park alone, the bathrooms were seen by an "hundreds of thousands of regular weekend park users." The stalls would definitely grab my attention as I am walking through Central Park or watching the Indy 500. I would also think it would be interesting to actually use the restrooms and say that I used a unique, hot red Port-A-Potty that no one has ever seen before. Sounds like effective product placement strategy!

The bathroom advertising industry is rapidly growing. This outlet allows marketers to use advertising and product placement to,
according to USA Today, "be more innovative — to zig when others zag" and "find clever ways to reach people. When someone says, 'Let's put advertising in bathroom stalls,' another says 'That's great. It's a captive audience.' " This article, written in Pittsburgh, says that advertising or product placement in a bathroom stall prevents the consumer from getting away from it. People cannot turn off a channel like on TV or radio, or "X" out of a pop-up like they can with an online ad. Using product placement in a bathroom "breaks through the clutter."

Bathroom product placement is now classified as 'out-of-home advertising' that is thought to become a profitable medium in the coming years. This mode of product placement expands into other outlets like ATM screen advertisements, ads on public telephone kiosks, bench signs, and bus ads. The 'out-of-home' industry creates $2.1 billion in business per year, "nearly half the $4.4 billion spent on the total category of outdoor advertising." This is a HUGE amount of money, and I am interested to see what will happen. Yes, I do not want people barging into my most private moments, but with some of the changes in mass media, brands have to reach you SOMEHOW! Bathrooms are a place where everyone goes, so marketers might as well try it. Product placement is supposed to occur when you least expect it, and the bathroom is definitely unexpected!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Board Games Galore!!

My brother and I are very competitive in the classic board game, Monopoly. I always win except for a few of those times when I spent the entire game in jail. Thinking about board games, what if a company incorporated their brand into a board game? Sounds like a great opportunity for product placement, and as I found out, it is actually happening!

This article I found discusses a new "Twists and Turns" Version of The Game of Life. This game will be a more modern version of the board game in which players actually use a small, Visa credit card - instead of play money. Visa will also include money management booklets. So, yes, little Tommy and Susie will be learning how to use a credit card at their very young age. Many parents and money experts are concerned with this, as the update will "unravel the game's sage money lessons and inculcate the preteen set with a credit-card mentality." I agree with the concern somewhat. While I see the argument that if a child uses a credit in the "play" game, they may misinterpret the way it is used in the real world and lead themselves into debt. But, I think that this is a good opportunity for parents to teach their kids about money management in the real world by playing the game. I also think this is a very, very effective product placement strategy on Visa's part. Starting to encode the Visa name in the mind's of the younger generations through this game will increase their likeliness to recognize and use Visa credit cards when they grow up. Smart!

In addition to The Game of Life, Monopoly has also updated its classic version of the game to a more modernized one, called the "Here and Now" Edition. In the game, tokens include a laptop computer and a Labradoodle dog as well as branded items like a Toyota Prius, a New Balance Shoe, McDonald's French Fries, and a Motorola RAZR Mobile Headset. Landmarks featured are Boston's Fenway Park, Las Vegas Blvd., Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, and Minneapolis' Mall of America. While I am not sure if any of these companies or landmarks paid to have their product in the game, this again is a very effective use of product placement, whether free or not. People young and old may play the game and if they see the brands and locations in the game in the real world, not only will they recognize it, but they might buy the product or visit the place, as well. In turn, sales can result, and another great vehicle of product placement ensues.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What does that car say??

Every day, I have to walk up a dozen or so stairs around one of the busiest places on campus. Yesterday, upon climbing those stairs, I noticed a van to my left. The van was not your typical mini-van though - it was a Coca-Cola van! It was just sitting there in the parking lot with no one in the driver's seat. It was very cool, I first thought, then realized I was a victim to some subtle product placement. Ironically, the van was located at one of the busiest spots on campus and was just sitting there. It was indeed red with the big Coca-Cola logo stamped on the side doors with little logos surrounding the rest of the van. I decided to look into vehicle wraps as a form of product placement and I found some interesting results...

Obviously, covering a vehicle in bright colors, unique shapes, or appealing messages will be seen by many people. According to this article, car advertising is a "new and noticeable" means of street marketing that "gets the brand to places where traditional media fail to reach—the residential street, the workplace, the school." Michael Lyons, founder of AdsOnCars service in the UK , states that "If [car advertising] is done correctly people, don't only see these cars, they actually stop and stare and talk about it later. On your trip to work you may pass a hundred posters. But if you see a wrapped car I'll wager that will be what you remember." Ithaca College can definitely be a difficult place to reach students, so I think Coke did a good job of bringing the van to campus. It is very important to stimulate brand awareness and recall in unexpected ways, and I think the van did the trick.

Most importantly, vehicle wrapping is very, very cost effective. Billboard advertising can cost anywhere from $600 to $2400 per month. On the other hand, a "fully-wrapped" company van costs only "$3500 - with a high-quality wrap that can last up to five years." An average wrap has about 8 million impressions in a year, so if you were to do the math, having that van or car for five years with your brand name vividly plastered on the side has a value that is huge!!! Sounds like a great product placement outlet for me!!!

I never was aware at how great vehicle advertising was. It is one of the cheapest and most effective means of marketing and I will keep it in mind once I enter the marketing world. Take a trip around these websites that specialize in vehicle wrapping. Some of the work they have done is really neat and definitely would get me talking!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Look out there...In left field!

I recently received an article from MediaPost about how the Boston Red Sox and Bank of America Corp. are renewing their corporate partnership with each other - and hence their work with product placement. With the beginning of baseball season, this is appropriate to note. Ballparks bring hundreds of thousands of fans a year to games, creating a perfect means to integrating a product within the game or the ballpark. With the Red Sox/Bank of America deal, the Red Sox promise to keep the Bank's logo in Fenway Park for all to see. The Red Sox benefit because it creates an opportunity for fans to open a "Red Sox-branded bank account." For every dollar that cardholders spend on retail items, they earn one point. The points build up and can be redeemed for everything from merchandise to special messages on Fenway Park's scoreboard during a game - even throwing the first pitch at a World Series game. Cost of the first pitch at the World Series - 100,000 points.

Bank of America is very proud to be associated with Major League Baseball, as they have a similar deal other baseball teams and stadiums. The company is using these sponsorships to "cement our brands with [some] of the most iconic teams in baseball" and become associated with the sport, rather than other sports. A baseball focus would create more brand recall and awareness, and thus, more product placement success. Good strategy to me!

Other brands have also broken into the sports market, where spectator counts are high and where brand exposure opportunities are high, too. In tennis, Lexus was the advertising and product placement leader during the 2006 US Open, placing their logo on the actual net, as well as around the center stadium. It cost them over $13 million to do so! In extreme sports, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and Vans sponsor major X-Sport tours and events throughout the country, usually during the summer. In turn, their logos and samples are plastered throughout the events and guests cannot leave without seeing the brand names somewhere. Most obvious is during the college football bowl season. Huge brands line up to sponsor bowl games - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, The Outback Bowl, Fed-Ex Orange Bowl, All-State Sugar Bowl, Champs Sport Bowl,and Bowl. These brands are placed in the logos of the games and in turn, show up on TV, on the field, on the scoreboard, even on t-shirts. There are millions of eyes that will see those brands, so if you have enough money to sponsor a bowl game, go for it!

With such a large opportunity for exposure, sports product placement and sponsorships are HUGE! Anytime you go to a ballpark, arena, or anything dealing with sports, make a mental note of all of the company and brand logos you see. Also, note the name of the building you are at. Whenever I go watch the Cavs in Cleveland, I watch the game in Quicken Loans Arena. Sounds kind of tacky, but I had never heard of Quicken Loans before they switched the arena's name...

Friday, April 6, 2007

Livin' La Vida Latina!

All throughout high school, I was enrolled in Spanish classes and enjoyed them very much. When I came to Ithaca, I actually considered minoring in the language because I knew that the Hispanic market was growing and that it would be to my benefit to continue buffing up my Spanish skills for my career. However, I decided to drop the minor and stick with a writing minor, but I am still very aware of the growing Spanish population and remember important aspects of the language. It will indeed help me in my career as the Spanish population is booming here in the United States.

I found an article through my PRSSA Issues & Trends e-newsletter that discussed the ways that large American companies are using product placement to reach the growing Latino market. J.C. Penney recently held a contest that awarded one young high school girl with an opportunity for a shopping spree. She won the spree on the show, Mi TRL, which airs on the network, TR3 MTV, a Hispanic MTV channel. After some serious shopping, the girl showed off the "gorgeous, gorgeous" clothes on the show in a later episode. With a high teen Latino market watching the show, J.C. Penney was able to show off its junior clothing through the fun contest and place its product on the MTV Latino catwalk for all of its audience to see. A very good strategy indeed!

Reaching Latinos is becoming more a creative task. Marketers want to place something in the media for the growing market to see, but want it to be appropriate and creative, so the audience will acknowledge and recognize its significance. The article states that "clients initially were hungry for any kind of placement, but now they want it to be highly creative, inventive and appropriate." For example, the Hispanic market loves soccer, so in an episode of the Spanish TV show, Amores Mercado, there was a soccer game and what was found on the field? Nothing other than a Coca-Cola sign! It was just what the audience would see at a real game, and the placement reemphasizes positive brand associations for the drink.

While Hispanic-targeted product placement may seem easy and effective (and it surely is!), it is also pricey. Recently, on the Latino variety show, Sábado Gigante, the host of the show consistently talked about (for 13 weeks to be exact) how "fun it is to vacation at Disney World." While it may have seemed like regular conversation, if the host talked about Disney World, or any product for that matter, before the commercials, it cost that product $25,000 and $50,000 - each time - to be mentioned there!

Marketers are seeing how important it is becoming to reach the Latino market now, and it will only become more and more important. I am excited to see how it may affect me when I begin working in a PR or advertising agency. I am glad I have some basic Spanish skills and am aware of their lifestyles. I guess some things in high school did pay off!

Here is a list of some of the major brands and companies that are involved in product placement, targeting a Spanish audience. It is a diverse list!

Sprint Nextel
Clorox (Check out the link!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

So what's the Hype about Chef Revival?

I recently received the figures for the Top 10 Product Placements of 2006 in my Marketing Daily e-newsletter. Take a look at the list here, along with the top programs that used product placements. It was no surprise that Coca-Cola was number one due to its avid role in the reality-show phenomenon, American Idol, which was the individual program leader in product placement (see my previous post). Coca-Cola had 3,355 occurrences for the year. Other obvious notables included Nike, Dell, and Cingular. However, number two on the list was Chef Revival Apparel with 1,592 placements. What?! I thought to myself. I have never heard of this brand and I define myself as "highly aware" of the media now that I am deep into my IMC major. I decided to scope it out to see what Chef Revival is all about.

Chef Revival is an apparel and supply company that provides uniforms and cooking supplies for chefs. Sounds like any other food product company, right? Well, yes. The only difference is that it has no PR or marketing department - it has become known in the world from reality TV. Chef Revival provides all of the uniforms for Fox's Hell's Kitchen, which gave it some of the best brand showing of the TV season.

It all started when Kim de la Villefromoy wanted to launch a chef attire company that was set at affordable prices for common chefs. He did so and now, a popular, typical Revival jacket, which has "colored panels, fancy trims and is offered in a variety of lengths," costs around $60. Big-name chefs began to hear about the company and last September, Kim got a phone call from a friend that said that a TV production company was looking for apparel for a new show, Hell's Kitchen. Revival sent the show 40 sets of clothing and 20 sets of knives at no cost. Hell's Kitchen producers ended up choosing the Revival Metro jacket, "which displays the company logo much more prominently than its other models." Chef Revival is now reaping the benefits and free placement. The popularity of the cooking show has made it the second top placement of the year! Sounds nice to me!

It was also interesting to see that the Chicago Bears placed at number 5, due to the success of "According to Jim." Some interesting product placements indeed due to such simple programming. I wonder what 2007 will bring....

Friday, March 30, 2007

Nielsen Reaching into Product Placement!!

I travelled to the Nielsen Ratings website a few days ago to check out some research for class and came across something revolutionary for product placement!!! On March 21, Nielsen announced that they are creating a new, web-based system called Place*Values, which "allows users to quickly determine the past performance of product placements and evaluate new placement opportunities." We can now see what and where products are being placed in the media, as well as if products are being recognized by consumers and if these consumers are more willing to purchase them based on seeing the placement.

I think that this is a great opportunity to see if product placement is indeed effective in the media. As criticism over product placement saturation and cannibalism increases, this system will give marketers a chance to see through their product and through the minds of viewers. Obviously, THE CONSUMER is the most important player in marketing, not the placements. If people don't want to see your product or see it too much of it, they will not buy it. That's a fact of advertising, and this system will help to find this.

Many TV channels and companies have signed on to this new system, including A&E, CBS, CourtTV, Discovery, FOX, Magna Global, Mediacom, OMD, PHD, Scripps Networks, Sprint, The Weather Channel, Twentieth TV and Zenith Media are the first users of Place*Values. I am sure that FOX will be reeling in the product placements (view my March 9th post on American Idol) and I am not sure what placements are present on The Weather Channel. I will have to check that out...

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see the information that this new program provides. I am very excited to watch this process unfold as we begin to decode the heart of product placement!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oprah has POWER!

I admit that I am a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show. I am more likely to watch it when she has my favorite celebrities on the show or when she is discussing a key scandal. However, if Oprah talks about a product on her show, it is big business. As a consumer, I trust her opinion and may indeed consider the products that she talks about. In my Advertising e-newsletter that I received yesterday, there was an article about how Oprah recently influenced General Mills' sales in a large way. You may be thinking, "General Mills is already a huge company, how could Oprah make any difference?" Well, I thought the same thing, but the article proved it. If a product is "placed" on Oprah's show, big sales can result - even for a giant company like General Mills.

Oprah's personal trainer recently created a new diet called the "Best-Life Diet." In the diet, there are " so many General Mills products that "the company believes it made a difference in third-quarter sales." Sales climbed up 9% and the CEO of General Mills, Steve Sanger thinks that the company indeed "did a little better, after that Best-Life Diet came out." This was much free publicity and indirect product placement, and I am sure General Mills is not complaining.

Besides helping General Mills by simply talking about them or "placing" them in a new diet plan, Oprah has also been known for helping authors and their books. Oprah's Book Club is a list of books that Oprah compiles herself, recommending them to her viewers. Oprah's audience is vast and trust her, so whatever book she chooses, the audience follows. This article states that "Oprah's recommendations had a bigger impact on the sales of books than anything we have previously seen in literature, or seen since." All of the book's that Oprah selects instantly surge onto the best seller lists and the authors reap the benefits. This is a simple word of mouth and product placement initiative that the authors do not have control of, but, like General Mills, take it as it comes.

Oprah is indeed an opinion leader and trusted by all ages of the public. When she uses product placement, the product instantly becomes successful. This is a huge power to have (I wish I could do that!). Products yearn for indirect product placement like this and only creates more motivation for them to create the ultimate product - a product that even Oprah would use.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Promotion of the Blog (Round Two)

To continue promoting my blog, I posted on two other classmates' blogs (relating to product placement, as well), with hopes that people will see their blog, read my comment, then visit my blog! It should generate some extra traffic.

On both blogs, the writers discussed Second Life and how it is a good or bad opportunity for certain products. I am impressed with Second Life, as are they, and we feel it is a good way to market and "place" our products out in the virtual world with hopes for "real-world" purchases.

Check out these blogs and visit my posts!



Friday, March 23, 2007

Placing Bloomsberry in Second Life

For my audience research class, I am creating a media plan for Bloomsberry Chocolate, a gourmet and all-natural candy bar company based out of New Zealand. Bloomsberry sells milk chocolate and dark chocolate candy bars that contain a large concentration of natural cocoa. The chocolate is also uniquely packaged in a box that is labeled for a mature, fun crowd. Some of the most popular bars are packaged as "Emergency Chocolate," "Oral Pleasure," and "The World's Greatest Pick-up Bar." This fun and creative product is beginning to gain exposure in the US and has much potential to become even more popular. Therefore, it would be very effective to market Bloomsberry Chocolate in the new interactive, 3-D virtual world of Second Life.

Second Life is an interactive community in which you create your own virtual character, called an avatar - all in the convenience of your own PC. You can buy land, talk with other avatars, pick your own clothes, and dye your hair purple - you can do anything! Real-world companies also buy land in Second Life and build islands that actually market their products. The main purpose, according to this article, is to "both promote in the virtual world and also generate buzz outside of Second Life." Organizations like Reebok, IBM, and Major League Baseball all have land in Second Life for avatars to visit, explore the products, and ask questions with real-life employees. You can design your own shoe at Reebok, browse through computers at IBM, and play some baseball at MLB Island. Click on each of the three links I provided above to see what some parts of the islands look like!
In class, we visited LeoBurnett, Mercedes, and Paper Couture - all very different islands. I realized that every island in SL has a different purposes (business and meetings for LeoBurnett, advertising and consumer interaction for Mercedes, and basic fun for Paper Couture. It is very obvious how simple it can become to reach consumers by marketing in Second Life. Bloomsberry can do this, too, by placing its product on a chocolate island for people to see, or even create their own island.
From working with Bloomsberry for class, I think that it would be smart for Bloomsberry to build its own island. The company needs to increase it exposure and create buzz for its product. In Second Life, Bloomsberry has the potential to reflect the fun and humorous personality of its brand. For example, we can give avatars the chance to browse through the funny and risque chocolate bars - even provide them FREEBIES! Imagine being able to carry around a free, "Emergency Chocolate" bar for when you might need it most! How cool would that be? Bloomsberry already has a unique positioning strategy and Second Life is a great way to show it. As Second Life is growing each day and soon all companies will have their own islands, Bloomsberry should jump on the bandwagon, too. The company has the potential to really make their chocolate shine in SL as a product that no one has ever come into contact with in SL. In turn, my hope is that it would lead to real-life profit and buzz. Tastes like Second-Life success to me!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Let the Games Begin!

As a child, my parents never let my brother and I own a Nintendo, GameCube, or XBox. They felt that video games would take up too much of our time or would be too violent, controversial, or a fake representation of reality. I never minded, I guess. Therefore, I know nothing about video games - absolutely nothing. I also know nothing about online video games, because they never really striked my interest. I have always used online technology for email and news, not video games. So, when MediaPost sent me an article about product placement in video games, I was shocked to see its large presence in the games. In fact, product placement is sweeping into the video games industry at some of the fastest rates ever.

As traditional advertising has become outdated, companies are trying to market products in new, innovative ways. This is where product placement comes into action. The video game industry is rapidly growing in consumer use. For example, according to the article above, the popular online action game Counter-Strike "generates more than 5 billion player minutes a month, compared to 4.8 billion for a U.S. TV show." This is a fantastic opportunity for a company to invest some advertising dollars here and place their products in the games for players to use and see. The article states that companies are, more than ever, taking part in "integrated, interactive product placements, where a product can be used as an integral part of the game play." In turn, it can eventually lead to a real-life purchase.

After reading the above article, I decided to Google "product placement and video games" out of curiosity. Over 3 million hits came up on my computer!! A huge number!! I guess product placement in video games is more evident than I thought it was. This article I found at shows that this is so. It stated that today, there are 132 million teen and adult gamers in the country. That is a very large audience, much larger than many other mass media outlets. Obviously, marketers see this and have spent $56 million on in-game advertising and product placement last year. It is also projected that spending will reach $730 million by 2010! I cannot even believe it - that is almost an 800% increase! Putting these facts together, "a videogame ad or placement costs $30 per 1,000 people reached." Sounds like quite the investment!

So who are some of the big names that are playing this product placement game? There are so many, that they cannot all be listed. Here are some of the well-known companies involved:
  • Apple - Graffiti artists in Atari's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure can listen to their iPod while tagging walls with Montana Gold spray paint.

  • Procter & Gamble - In Danica's Secret 500 Challenge, a game sponsored by P&G, gamers create characters that compete on the track. The game combines the athlete of Danica Patrick, a female Indy 500 star, and Procter and Gamble's deodorant line.

  • Visa - In CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder, a crime-solving game, Visa's fraud-protection service "alerts players to a stolen credit card that helps gamers crack a murder case."

  • Sony - In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow , players use Sony Ericsson phones to find clues to catch terrorist suspects.

  • Toyota - In Whyville, an online game for teenagers, users can visit Toyota's Club Scion to decorate their cars with everything from colors to wings to self-made bumper stickers.

Visit this slideshow on to see some more product placements in popular video games. They are everywhere!!!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Time to Bow to "Idol"

"American Idol" has been one of the most successful shows of the decade. Not only does the show provide the benefits of being family-friendly and fan-friendly , but it is a show that consists of an audience that is large and loyal. Viewers keep coming back for more season after season, providing an ample opportunity for marketing. There is a huge, diverse audience where everyone and anyone has a chance to see your brand. Perfect time for product placement and it is indeed very apparent. I have been an "Idol" fan since Kelly Clarkson and I even admit that I went to a Clay Aiken concert way back when, but I am still watching, just like everyone else, and I know that marketers on and off the show are seizing the opportunity to catch me with their products.

According to
this article I found in my weekly American Advertising Federation e-newsletter, Idol is huge in the product placement and promotions market. First, as anyone who regularly watches the show will notice, there are three red Coke cups sitting right in front of Randy, Paula, and Simon. It is more than easy to read and recognize the white letters of "Coca-Cola" on the TV screen. Maybe too obvious, but American Idol is banking in on the placement - receiving about $26 million for the brand to be displayed on FOX. Not too shabby.

In addition to the obvious Coca-Cola placement, I also noticed, while at Wegman's grocery store the other week, that "American Idol" is creating partnership with other products to promote and place two brands in the consumer market! I am a huge fan of the low sugar, Slow-Churned Edy's Ice Cream and went over to the product to check out the price at Wegman's and see if it was on sale. To my surprise, I found five new, appealing flavors covered in blue packaging with the "American Idol" logo on the front. Turns out, "American Idol" teamed up with Edy's to create five new flavors. Consumers are urged to buy the ice cream, try it out, and (surprise!)
vote on their favorite where the winning flavor will hit the shelves for good...sound familiar to some popular show on TV? The strategy is working, though - Edy's Slow-Churned Ice Cream sales are up 20%, according to the above article. It also states that as a part of the partnership, Ace Young, a finalist (and very attractive finalist, I must say) from last season's "Idol," will "surprise 11 consumers participating in the online voting by showing up at their homes [with] Edy's -sponsored ice cream parties." The "American Idol" and Edy's partnership definitely took me by surprise after my grocery trip and I am still debating whether to try out the "Take the Cake" flavor. The motivation to meet Ace (in my dreams!) and, more importantly, have a say in a new ice cream flavor sounds like a good deal to me! Plus the idea of cake sounds so yummy.

Idol has also created partnerships with McDonald's Happy Meals, Nestle, and Pringles. Not only is it increasing sales for these products, "American Idol" is placing itself on popular items that consumers are constantly buying, thus constantly exposing them to "American Idol." The show is forced into consumers' minds and I am sure some people are tuning into the show who have not in the past, just to see what the hype is about. This is a very smart product placement strategy that "American Idol" is taking and its ratings are proof of that with
31.2 million viewers on Tuesday and 28.9 million on Wednesday for the week of February 12-18. We can bow down now...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Spring Break, Baby!

Next week, IC students will be leaving campus to enjoy Spring Break. Many of my friends are taking trips to Florida, Costa Rica, Cancun, even Utah to ski (even though I would rather be somewhere warm). I am one of the unfortunate ones going nowhere warm and will be home in Ohio. It will really be nice to relax, though. Anyways, with Spring Break upon us, this is an ample time to discuss how marketers use product placement within the college party and Spring Break environment to create brand recognition, awareness, and positive associations about their products.

This article on MediaLife Magazine Online discusses the Las Vegas area as a Spring Break retreat and party zone for college students. It is very evident that marketers are aware of the opportunity to target these students who are visiting the area to party and have a good time. It seems to be that the primary strategy for targeting this demographic is to catch them off guard and place a product where a student may least expect it. In turn, they will be forced to acknowledge it and put it in their mental file. It may also lead to a purchase at some point, most importantly.

For example, marketers place branded goods such as towels, pillowcases, beach umbrellas, and coasters in hotel rooms, lobbies, and common areas of hotel facilities. I know I would not expect it if I laid my head down for a bit and saw a Corona at my eye level. Placement is also taking place in lobby billboards and scrolls, in elevator shafts, and on, believe it or not, key cards. I would never think that the key to my hotel room would be an opportunity for a company to market to me, but it is indeed a very smart place to place a brand. I need that key the entire trip, so I will see the brand the entire trip and will most likely remember it. Finally, and something that is my favorite - samples! Hotels or public vendors give out gender-specific or non-gender specific “survival” packs at check-in or during the vacation that urges brand awareness and product trials. Everyone loves free samples, so I feel this would be very effective as well.

According to the article, approximately 200,000 to 300,000 students visit Las Vegas on their Spring Break. This is a very large and promising target to reach. Many well-known companies are taking advantage of this audience and already have decided to market and associate their products with 2007 Spring Break including Gillette Razors, Secret deodorant, Bic Razors, Ice Breakers, Axe, Sunsilk, Rohto V and Crest.

Also, and more obviously, alcohol is a major sponsor and marketer during this time. This article states that over Spring Break, men "are reported drinking 18 drinks per day and the average woman drinks 10 per day." In addition, 40% of men and 33% of women reported being drunk daily. This is a large statistic that demonstrates Spring Break alcohol use. Beer and alcohol companies KNOW that students are out to party and drink, so they place their brand all over the Spring Break premises, so people will drink THEIR brand. The link to the article shows pictures of Budweiser on a beach ball and a large banner that is advertising a party associated with Bacardi, where the logo is largely displayed.

So, all college students beware! You may be getting away from the world of school for a while, but you are not escaping the world of advertising and product placement. Marketers are out to get YOU on Spring Break and will find you when you least expect it. Be on the lookout, if you can, and most of all, have an enjoyable and safe Spring Break!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Victim to the 'A Word'

While advertising continues to be a rising career option and media opportunity to interact and inform the public about a product, a recent study posted on Media Week found that more and more ads are victim to the 'A Word' today - Avoidance. This is not good news for advertisers and agencies who are trying to position a product in a positive light and encode it in the the minds of their targeted audiences. I decided to delve further and look at some numbers. Let's look...

Research conducted by Microsoft and Starcom found that between 10% and 15% of adults aged 17-35 are “ad avoiders” - meaning they commonly do not like advertising and find it “annoying.” I did some math based on statistics from the US Census Bureau, and found that this age group consists of more than 64 million people. Therefore, taking only 10% of this group is more than 6.4 million people! 15% is 9.6 million people! Either way, that is a large number of people that do not like ads. It is especially startling for advertisers because this 17-35 age group is beginning to become brand loyal. They also have much purchasing power in areas like cars, household items, and apparel. It is not a good sign when such a large number is actually dodging around their ads.

Therefore, how do we get these people, or at least try, to buy our product? Product placement is the answer, of course! A nice quote by Tom Willerer, director of insights and analytics at Starcom, stated, "We have to think more creatively. It’s about trying to buy what’s not for sale. Is this easy? No. But we’re viewing this as a creative problem to solve. This is the new reality of doing business.” Marketing and advertising has gotten to the point of needing new strategies to reach "avoiding" customers. Product placement should do the trick because it provides less "clutter" and less expectation of seeing an ad, hence less interruption in the flow of a film or TV show. There is no way of escaping product placement, or avoiding it as we shall say, so I am sure this is the one area of marketing that will not be harmed over time. We shall see...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I saw it, now I want to buy it...

Surfing through a media website for my marketing class, I came across an article discussing a website where you can buy the products you see on your favorite TV shows or in your favorite movies - the clothes, the cosmetics, the martini glasses - anything and everything. No way, I thought, could I really get what Meredith was wearing on Grey's Anatomy or find the clothes or products that are similar or used by my favorite actress and sitcom star, Jennifer Aniston??? You betcha!! I decided to look further.
This recent article on International Herald Tribune online discusses a website called simply sells the products of product placement. Confused? Well, last night were the Oscars. Designers flocked to celebrities before the show to get them to wear their dresses or jewelery, hoping that consumers will see or hear about the products, and then want to buy them. This is product placement at its best. Browsing through, there was actually real and knock-off jewelery, dresses, and even the pantyhose of the stars. Information on Reese Witherspoon's "Diamond Bangle," Penelope Cruz's "Diamond Cluster Earrings," and (surprise!) cleavage gel inserts were posted on this website for more information and for purchase. I could easily buy the products that were placed in front of my eyes at the glitzy and glamorous awards show last night. In fact, you could buy almost anything - a huge benefit to manufacturers, marketers, and sellers.

According to the article, as more consumers use digital video recorders and watch fewer commercials, "brands are looking at ways to connect with viewers...and consumers' fascination with celebrity culture and new technologies are allowing this to happen." Therefore, brands are incorporating themselves in TV or in the movies to create hype and consumer interest with their product, which may turn into a purchase. Marketers and businesses are getting desperate to reach their audience and product placement may do the trick. It is evident that this methodology is working because: "Product placement generates $4 billion...and some have estimated that extending this model creates a market potentially worth $100 billion." $100 billion, just from product placement! This is a very useful marketing tool indeed!

It was truly interesting of what can be purchased on this website. If you are curious, please visit and look around. It is the essence of product placement and a very fascinating way to sell products.
Here are some of the most popular hits on

*Gucci 85th anniversary bag from "Ugly Betty"
*Meredith Grey's JBrand jeans
*Gabrielle's Aldo purse from "Desperate Housewives"

Other websites to visit, too!

And, by the way...there were over 345 items that I can buy that Jennifer Aniston uses!! Hmmmm...

Monday, February 26, 2007

One of the Four P's - PROMOTION

As an Integrated Marketing Communications student, I have learned the importance of the marketing mix in making a product successful. A marketing mix is defined by four P's - Product, Place/Distribution, Price, and Promotion. For my blog, I already created it as a product, have a place for it on this website, and price is not really applicable. So, that leaves me with...PROMOTION!

To promote my blog I will:

*Post a link in my Facebook profile to allow people to see the link and visit my blog.
*Tell my friends, family, and peers about the blog and hope that word of mouth will spread.
*Post on other blogs so people can visit my blog after reading my comments somewhere else.

We shall see if this works...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Read Any Good Ads Lately?"

As I was reading my daily "PR Issues & Trends" e-newsletter, an article titled, "Read Any Good Ads Lately?", was archived that discussed how products are placed in books. Whenever I think of product placement, I usually think of TV and movies - products that we can physically see being used by a character. I don't usually think of books. So I thought, is this means of product placement actually present in advertising and the media market? I looked into it further and found that the answer is indeed yes.

The article talks about Los Angeles writer, Mark Haskell Smith, who penned a book with much use and incorporation of the Lexus brand and their cars in his book. Prior to the publication of the book, Lexus took part in much intense focus-group sessions and realized that "potboiler fiction would be a great advertising hook to reach a younger, hipper client base." Hence, Smith was able to do it for them and penned his novel, "Black Sapphire Pearl," that as Smith describes, is "really cool and different and literary...It doesn't read like an ad." Oh, but it is. Lexus is viewing this work as promotion and hoping people who read the book will see their product in a positive light and will make a purchase. Smith is reaping the benefits, too, as his story is published in three different publications of Lexus quarterly magazines. Publicity for Smith, unexpected exposure for Lexus.

I found another example of where this practice was taking place. This article mentions a young adult novel called "Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233." It describes the main female character wearing "killer coat of Clinique #11 'Black Violet' lipstick." Product placement! Then, in the final edition of the book, the reference to Clinique now is changed to the character using Cover Girl's "killer coat of Lipslicks in 'Daring.' " Lipslicks is one of their popular lipstick line and it turns out that Cover Girl manufacturer, Procter and Gamble, signed a marketing deal with Running Press, a company that is publishing the novel. Therefore, Cover Girl gets its publicity of its lipstick and authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, will have their novel promoted on, "a Web site directed at adolescent girls that has games, advice on handling puberty and, yes, makeup tips." Product placement is definitely out there in books!

I am not a big reader of novels, but when I do read a book, I never really think of product placement or notice it being used. I am sure that my favorite book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has some products being placed in there somewhere. I will have to dig out the book from my desk and look. I will post at a later date what I find. In the meantime, pull out your favorite book and see if a brand is mentioned somewhere in there. There may be a contract between the product and the author, there may not be, as well. Either way, I feel that it can be an effective way of product placement and advertising. So go back to the question of the article and answer it for yourself. I am sure you will find something.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Apple is the King!!

I spent this past weekend in the Pocono Mountains with eight of my friends. We lounged around my friend's house in our PJ's, did some shopping, and ate some good, home cooked food. We also watched Meet the Fockers and The Devil Wears Prada. Besides being great movies, I noticed that at one point in each of the movies, there was a character in it that was using an Apple Computer. BOTH MOVIES!! What product placement this was on Apple's part, I thought. I knew from my marketing class here at IC that Apple is becoming a dominant and thriving computer and technology company with strategic and successful marketing campaigns. I was sure that this product placement strategy was a part of it. I decided to check it out for myself, and what I found was very interesting.

According to
this article I found from the Washington Post, Apple products were mentioned or viewed 250 times on TV shows alone over the past four months. "The Office" recently had an entire episode where the boss on the show gave a his employees an iPod as a "cool" gift. Using the iPod in the show gave Apple four minutes of exposure for the product - and it turned out to be free! Free, you say?

Yes, while Apple has actually used product placement since the beginning of its time and used to pay for it, now, it seems as if they do not pay for it and are more likely to get "free exposure." While it is unclear how Apple gets this exposure, it could be due to a new trend in the media business in which the movie or the TV show "barter" with a company who wishes to place their product in the show or movie. In turn, people working on the show or movie receive products from a respective company in exchange for air time of the placed item.

Whether or not Apple is doing this, Apple may be receiving so much placement because the company's sales are steadily
growing and its products are gaining popularity in the US technology market with the iMac and iPod. Everyone seems to have one of them these days!

Apple has also branded itself as a company that offers hip and artistic products. You see this from their upbeat iPod
commercials with popular Top 40 songs playing in the background, as a young man or woman jams to the songs on their iPod. Also, why is it that "cool" characters like Carrie in Sex and the City is using a Mac or that the "good guys" in 24 are using a Mac and the "bad guys" are using PCs or unbranded computers. This is because Apple has come to create positive and fun associations when using the product. In turn, more and more TV shows and movies are jumping on this company and placing Apple products into their projects to demonstrate that they are "cool," too. Apple is indeed a perfect opportunity to place in a movie or TV show to promote those exact feelings and attitudes. The fact that they may doing it for free is even more awesome!

We can now bow down to Apple...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kids have POWER, but not product placement

In my most recent e-newsletter from MediaPost, one of the feature stories discussed how much power kids have in getting their parents to buy them "stuff." The story stated that every one in three parents are "significantly influenced by their kids when it comes to choosing brands." Everything to fruit snacks to light-up shoes to the latest video game, a majority of kids demand that they want something, and then they get it. I then thought to myself, what an incredible opportunity for product placement! Show Spongebob sporting some Nike's or Raven eating at Burger King. Kids will see the shoes or the restaurant and demand the folks for it.

However, as I found out, product placement is
illegal to use to market to children. Children's minds are not fully developed and they may not understand "the nature of product placement or recognize it." Therefore, the media has declared it illegal because it can misinform and misconstrue children's perceptions of a product they see in their favorite show. Bummer for product placement!

So, if product placement cannot be used for kids, is there a way to at least make it work some way? Well, there is. We need to reach those parents who are easily swayed by their children! These people actually have a name: child influenced shoppers. The article stated some cool facts that clearly infer that product placement would be a great tool to use to attract these people because they are:

A) Two times as likely to agree as the average U.S. adult that if they see a brand name product on a TV show, they are reassured it is a good product.

B) Twice as likely to agree as the average U.S. adult that if they see a brand name product on a TV show they are more likely to buy that product than a competitor's brand.

C) More than two times as likely to agree as the average U.S. adult that if they see a character in a movie use a brand-name product they have never tried before, they are likely to try it.

All of the above is product placement at its best. Therefore, while we may not be capable of reaching kids through the practice, we can at least grab their susceptible parents. Be sure to check out the
article yourself, very insightful.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can You Find Me Some Air Force Ones or Rocawear???

I am always catching big-name rappers like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Nelly singing about their cars, their drinks, and even their own clothing lines. So is it actually product placement, self-promotion, or just singing about what they like??? Well, according to a really informative 2003 MTV News article that I came across, the answer is all of the above.

When I think about products being rapped about in popular songs, the first item that comes to mind is Nelly and his Air Force Ones. The title of the song is
AIR FORCES ONES for crying out loud!! How much more product placement can this song ask for as it is blaring through the speakers of cars and clubs all over the country? The rapping paid off for the shoes and Nelly himself, as the show company and the rapper both banked in on this song, signing a deal to produce a Nike-branded NellyVille Air Force 1 Shoe.

On the other hand, rappers have become so powerful and so wealthy that they can promote their OWN products in their OWN songs! Imagine that! Mogul Jay-Z did just that with his clothing brand, Rocawear, in his song,
All I Need. The entire song raps to how all we need is the "R-O-C baby!" Rocawear sales are, of course, booming, and I am sure All I Need preached to Jay-Z listeners the need to buy his clothing line. That Jay-Z is a smart guy I must say.

So, while many rappers may be paid to rap about a product with hopes for personal profit or an endorsement deal, or a company cashes in by using an entertainer to mention its product in a song, it sometimes just comes down to the rapper actually liking or using the product. In the MTV News article I posted above, rap producer, Damon Dash states, "We rap about things we like. I'll mention Cheetos because I like them, but if I didn't they wouldn't be in our songs." I am sure rappers are proud they own that $100,000 Lexus or enjoy drinking the Cristal at the clubs, so why not brag about it in their songs??? I don't know if I would be that materialistic, but, I am not a rapper who is bringing in the dough.

Friday, February 9, 2007

If you don't wear it, I will sue you...

I am an addict to People Magazine and US Weekly. I love E! and my MTV. Yep, I engulf all of that goodness. On one of my daily visits to, I came across yet another lawsuit that was filed against a celebrity. It wasn't about a racy picture or a drug bust. Nope, it was a lawsuit for NOT wearing an article of clothing. Charlize Theron was recently sued for wearing the wrong watch. Theron is supposed to be wearing only Well watches, but she was caught (gasp!) sporting a Christian Dior watch at a recent Hollywood hoopla. No amount of the lawsuit is given, but it was stated that Jessica Simpson was sued for over $100 million this past April for not wearing the brands she was paid to be wearing. That is a hefty sum!!

So, this brings up a question of product placement. Are celebrity endorsements considered a form of product placement??? I think so. If a company is paying someone to wear their clothing, drink their water, or talk about their new cell phone in the public domain, then indeed, the product is finding its proper exposure, possibly when consumers least expect it.

I am a huge tennis fan and many tennis players are paid by water or sports companies to be carrying the drink with them during a photo shoot, press conference, and anywhere they go off the court. Why?? So fans will see their idols drinking it and maybe will think, "Hmmm...maybe I should be drinking that, too!" James Blake, the second-ranked American tennis player, recently signed with Evian water to be the "product ambassador" for the product. Blake has carried a bottle of Evian everywhere he goes. I have seen it on TV and in person.

Celeb endorsements are a good way of incorporating product placement and promotion into the buying world. I am a victim of buying something that I saw a celeb or tennis player wearing or drinking. In fact, this past summer, I heard one of my favorite tennis players talk about eating at the Waffle H
ouse and how great the food was. Waffle House, really? I thought. I wouldn't think he would say that. I would assume a tennis player would eat at a high-end restaurant with healthy food. Maybe not! So, the athlete may have or have not been paid to say that, but The Waffle House is on my list of restaurants to visit in the short future, just to see what all the fuss was about.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Being a female with sometimes dangerous shopping habits who will one day be (gasp!) in her 40-somethings, I am very intrigued on seeing how marketers may try to target me in the future. I was provided with the strategies to reaching and learning about the "baby-boomer" women of today ( While strategies may change in 20 or so odd years, I am sure some of the tactics used today will still be valid when I am pushing the big 5-0. How may marketers catch me in 20 years or how are they catching my mother right now??

First, women are chatty, everyone knows it. I am. So, many products rely on female word
of mouth to get the exposure they need. While this is still the case today, the use of the Internet is changing marketing strategies. The article states, "While word of mouth remains in the mix, busy women are connecting on the Web, looking for kindred spirits to inform their buying decisions." Therefore, women are purchasing goods online more often or scoping out the Web for the newest and latest products. They are also talking about goods online, as well. Therefore, you need to appeal directly to the women and they will then do the rest, Yvonne DiVita, author of "Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online" (love the title, by the way), states: "If you put it in front of Jane, whatever the product is, she'll get it in front of the person who really needs it," DiVita says. So, catch boomer women off-guard while they are online. It could be the best place.

You also need to have a strong story line and strong way of being credible to boomer women, according to the article. Sounds like Seth Godin again to me! There are more 40 to 50-aged women in the U.S. than ever before and presenting them with the "next best thing" will get women talking and then get them buying. Knowing this, marketers speak directly to women and make them see a distinction in the product that sets it apart from similar products. You need to give boomer women the products that they "don't have to make an appointment for," and are not prepared to see. Sounds like it could be...yes, this may indeed be the case...

It is...ta-da! Product Placement! Throwing a product with a unique story behind it into the women's face or in a place where it is not expected (in a soap opera family room, on a talk show desk, in a chick flick cafe) may indeed get women talking or considering to check out the product. Women are gaining control these days and marketers are seeing this. So, find them, aim at them, and take fire. The shot will strike them and victory will follow!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My First Time...

I sometimes think I am out of the technology loop. Big time! I recently listened to an Edleman podcast and an AdAge podcast as part of class. This was the first time I had EVER listened to a podcast, so I didn't really know what to expect. Turns out, it is like a convenient, little radio show. I pick what I want to listen to and I can then listen to it - right then and there on my computer. There are no distractions and the information can be easily absorbed. The Edleman podcast I chose to listen to discussed a new blogging research study completed by Dr. Nora Barnes, a communications professor at Dartmouth. Barnes was the "guest" for the podcast and talked about her experience after sampling a group of 260 heavily-active business bloggers, asking them questions about their thoughts, attitudes, and reasons for blogging. Since I am a newbie to this whole blogging thing, (again...outside the technology loop), I was interested to hear what she had discovered. You can listen to it here:

The AdAge podcasts took me a little longer to choose which one I wanted to listen to. There were many, many options. In fact, I was a bit overwhelmed as to which one to hear. There was everything from supersizing burgers to American Idol to Whoppi Goldberg. Yep, wide variety. So, I now see that the benefit of a podcast is that the "host" discusses what will be talked about before the discussion begins. So, if I am not interested in the subject matter, I can cancel the podcast and find something else. I HAVE CONTROL!! I listened to the introductions of 3 podcasts before coming across one that interested me. It talked about how TV stations are now showing commercials based on commercial ratings, rather than program ratings. If people are actually watching commercials on a station (and now you can obtain that information), TV companies will invest more advertising dollars into those commercial time slots. In turn, advertisers will know that their product is being seen. Again, there was a "guest" named Abbey Klaassen, who was a reporter from AdAge who discussed this topic. This was a very interesting podcast, as well. Check out the podcast here:

Being my first experience in podcasting, I can see how product placement may not be so relevant in this outlet. The only way a product can be placed into the consumer's ears can be through the lips of the podcast "host" or "guest." If no one mentions a specific product themselves, there is no way of the public hearing it. This would probably be one of the areas where it would be difficult to "interrupt" a listener, as Seth Godin said in my last post. But, don't assume that product placement is impossible here. It is NOT! It is just that the marketers of a certain product have no say in who is discussing their product in the podcast. A mention of it may come out, but human speech is a natural process and you can't push anything out of anyone's lips. Kind of a strike out for product placement here, but I learned a whole lot about podcasts. There is a first time for everything...

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Seth Godin says "Marketers are Liars"

Seth Godin - simulating, fascinating, brilliant. In short, the man is an incredible speaker and knows his stuff about marketing and consumer behavior. Godin is the author of seven bestselling books and is given the title as one of the "21 Speakers for the Next Century" by Successful Meetings. In his recent speech. "Marketers are Liars," Godin discusses Google's successful and brilliant marketing strategies that caused the company to become one of the top corporations of the decade.

Godin states that Google's success rides on the fact that people feel great when they use it. When consumers and businesspeople want information, they have thousands upon thousands of sources that are spit back to them on Google. The satisfaction and amazement that this outlet created causes people to tell others about it, then those people tell other people, then those people tell other people. You get the picture - word of mouth has POWER! Google saw this and built its empire on story-telling.

Godin emphasizes that word of mouth is stirred when a product or service creates a story because it is unique. He supports his claim by giving an example about cows. Yes, cows. It even was the basis for one of his books. It goes like this:

Godin and his family were driving down a country road in France and his wife was asleep, like always, in the front seat. His two children were bickering to the brink of annoyance in the backseat, but suddenly became quiet. They were looking fixedly out the window at some cows in the pasture. There was a nice silence for "five seconds," he stated, then the kids went back to bickering. However, Godin says that if the cows would have been purple, his children would not have went back to arguing and his wife would have most definitely woken up. His family would have demanded to get out of the car, take pictures, and tell their friends about these "remarkable" purple cows.

This is how marketing works. If Google, or any company, can create a product that allows their customers to create a personal story for it, the product will find remarkable success. A story can spread like wildfire and soon one person who tells 10 people in which each of those people tells 10 people gives you a whole lot of people who know about the product. Everyone may then check out the product for themselves - free marketing for the product ALL because of the story.

So, what do purple cows and Google have to do with product placement? The key is to catch a consumer off guard. "Interrupt them," as Godin says, and product placement may do just the trick. By having a character in, say, Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy driving a Ford, people may think, whoa, McDreamy drives a Ford and look at how fabulous he looks in it! This image and story stays in the back of their head and Ford could be a considerable brand in their next car purchase. More importantly, the consumer may tell another person about this story and we are back to the funneling effect of word of mouth. Eventually, someone is bound to buy that car and ka-ching! A sale! So, the key...interrupt the consumer!! Show glitzy actors or actresses in movies or TV shows eating in Subway, sipping a Starbucks coffee, using an Apple computer, or jamming on their iPod. Many stories are created in the back of a consumer's mind and who knows who could eventually hear that story? Everyone could, that's who, and then KA-CHING!!!

Want to see the presentation for yourself??

Check it out: