The humor and attention-getter of movies mostly happens when the main character subtly uses products of a particular brand. This is called product placement, or the partnership of brand-carrying companies with movie production houses for in-movie advertisements.
The practice of product placement started when shipping and transport companies were mentioned in “Around the World in Eighty Days,” a novel by Jules Verne in the 19th century. It then became a practice in popular movies in the 1920s and in television in the 1950s. In the 1980s, the number of product placements started to increase and continues to grow even until today.
Product placements have benefits, both for the brand-carrying companies and for the filmmakers alike.
Benefits for Brand-Carrying Companies
First, product placements can help create better product awareness and recall. The main character or actor in the movie can realistically use the product, associate it with the fans’ lifestyle, and communicate the message of the brand to viewers and audiences.
Second, product placements create better stories by showing the natural use of products. Unlike neglected commercials in television and other media platforms, viewers are compelled to view the advertisements during movie scenes.
Third, product placement costs less than a normal endorsement. There’s a guaranteed long-term exposure of products, since movies are viewed by the general public for longer periods of time.
Benefits for Filmmakers
First, filmmakers and movie production companies can earn higher revenues and profit margins, which do not only come from ticket sales. They also come from product placement partnerships (branding, carrying the brand’s merchandise, and advertising of brands in the film) with brand-carrying companies.
There is mutual agreement for the deal and package. Brand-carrying companies can also sponsor other expenses such as props, wardrobe, and transportation. In return, these filmmakers have sufficient funds for future movie productions.
Second, product placements are helpful to independent filmmakers, who usually get their funds from individuals and organizations supporting their cause. Although independent films have a different niche and smaller audiences compared to mainstream movies, they can still partner with companies for higher funding and increased viewing opportunities from audiences.
Third, product placements help capture the attention of movie audiences, who associate their lifestyles with the main character using a specific product. The viewers’ familiarity with the products helps them recall the whole movie. Also, product placements, when naturally sequenced, help emphasize or enhance more stories in the movie.
However, there are downsides of product placements both for the filmmakers and the brand-carrying companies.
Downsides for Filmmakers
Product placements sometimes are not in line with the movie plot. Placements can ruin the flow of the scene through improper timing and placement overload. Sometimes, the products are more emphasized than the scene or character, which become eyesores to viewers.
Downsides for Brand-Carrying Companies
Product placements are still costly investments for brand-carrying companies, even if they are relatively cheaper than other kinds of advertisements. The minimum investment is a seven-digit number, with a minimum of $10 million for a coherent placement in the movie plot.
Aside from the cost, there’s no guarantee of recall and loyalty from the viewers if there are numerous endorsed brands peddling the same products. Viewers might misidentify one brand from another.
Product placement has become a part of the filmmaking process. This practice brings more benefits than disadvantages for both brand-carrying companies and filmmakers. However, the most important thing they shouldn’t forget is to capture the audiences and viewers’ “soft spot” in order to reap the benefits.