Product placement dates all the way back to the nineteenth century, when it was common in publishing. In the first decade of film history in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, the short films were much more akin to adverts of today than they were film, with obvious selling intentions. It was an effective method, and it’s still used today.
When films became longer-length features, advertisers realised the benefit of attaching their product to the title and its stars. The classic film It’s A Wonderful Life was sponsored by National Geographic, and you can see the magazine prominently. James Bond has almost always had product placement with brands like Heineken, L’Oreal and BMW, while Pontiac’s sales went up went Knight Rider used their Trans Am.
Some films have used product placement in very interesting ways. For example, Jurassic Park had product placement from Ford, but one scene in the film shows a Jurassic Park Souvenir Store filled with movie merchandise already available in real life! Nike was just one of the products featured heavily in Back To The Future, and in 2008 the company made a series of limited edition Hyperdunk sneakers, modelled on the ones worn by Marty in the second film.
Starting and radio and moving onto the TV, soaps tended to underwritten by a company like Procter & Gamble, the characters in which would use products sold by that brand. The shows now which have the highest number of product placement instances are reality-style shows such as The Biggest Loser, American Idol and Extreme Makeover, but these are easy to do; a more complex method is to digitally insert contemporary products into old television shows. TV shows like Numb3rs and Still Standing are shot with blank equipment which the sponsors are edited into after.
Websites and Apps
The future of media has presented a new opportunity for product placement, and companies are not going to fall behind. Adverts on web pages have been around for a long time now, but the same uses of banners and links are much less useful on the small screen of a smartphone – you might notice the next time you’re on the mobile site for Euro Palace Online Casino that there are some small ads, but they’re unlikely to make much of an impact.
This means that companies are starting to think about smarter ways to get them involved – usually in apps or games. Without taking away from the “natural” feel of the app, popular drinks could be consumed by characters in games or local restaurants could be displayed in diet apps.
Bigger and bigger markets are opening up with product placement opportunities, and it’s thought that the amount of money spent on in-mobile ads is set to increase by around 600% from the years 2012 to 2015. With revenue from ads, some exciting things can happen with smartphones and tablets!