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 SeeOn.com. SeenOn.com 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 SeenOn.com, 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 SeenOn.com:

*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 Beinggirl.com, "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 People.com, 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 (http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=27667). 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. http://sethgodin.com/sg/ 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:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6909078385965257294

Friday, February 2, 2007

Would you buy a FAKE brand???

As a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America, I automatically am sent a daily e-newsletter about PR issues and trends. I SHOULD read them, I really should, but, like every other person being bombarded by spam, I usually delete some of them (okay, most of them) right away. However, I recently opened one of the emails and a news story from Brand Week discussed reverse product placement http://www.brandweek.com/bw/news/recent_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003538681. Reverse product placement? I asked myself. Does this mean taking a product out of its normal setting, like putting a Budweiser in front of a toddler or putting some Heintz Ketchup on some ice cream?? Nope, those are just wrong.

While regular product placement is putting a real-world brand into a fictional environment to expose it, reverse product placement is "creating a fictional brand in a fictional environment and then releasing it into the real world." This is uncommon today, but it is still prevalent in some instances. My favorite example is the beloved Willy Wonka chocolate bars. If you walk into any candy store, you can actually buy a Wonka Bar. Before Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka Candy as a brand, did not exist. However, as the film became extremely successful and popular, to children most specifically, Nestle decided to bring the fictional candy to life. Now, any child (or adult, for that matter) can get a Wonka Bar, just like they saw in the movies! With the most recent Johnny Depp version of Willy Wonka, I am sure that Nestle saw their sales jump as a new generation was exposed to the classic movie.

I can see how reverse product placement can yield a company much success if the company (like Nestle) has enough power and strategy to bring a popular, fictional product to life. Everyone would love to own what they see in the movies! However, I can see the difficulties with this, as well. Movies are popular, but I don't think a population is large enough to buy a enough of a fictional product.to make it profitable. The market would be too small.

Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms at Organic, the New York online ad shop, puts it all into perspective: "Reverse product placement probably wouldn't work because the audiences would be too small. It's a great opportunity, but it's more like a novelty. I don't know if it could survive in the market." I agree, but I must admit, I am victim to buying a Wonka Bar...are you?