Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Product Placement Mad Men style... now pour me a scotch

"Believe me, somewhere in the business, this has happened before"

- Roger Sterling, Mad Men season 3

I just read a nice little article about product placement on Mad Men, the AMC series hit about the origianl Madison Avenue ad execs of the 60s. (read article here) One might think that their product placement was limited to just smokes and booze. I don't know if it's a matter of ethics or a matter of time, but neither of these devious vices are ever called by name brand... but there are certainly others who get the spotlight on the hour long program. Hilton, Gillette and John Deere to name a few.

It got me to thinking about product placement. Starbucks never paid for it.... maybe that has changed, but that was the case when I was on watch. I am Sam, Shrek, Sex in the City.... they all had Starbucks product placement. Anywhere from the cup to the actual cafe, and Starbucks didn't pay a dime. Why? Well, it was authentic to the pop-culture landscape and to the story itself. No other 'Central Perk' would do, it had to be Starbucks or the story didn't feel right. Recently however, they have paid for positioning on a morning show called none other than Morning Joe on MSNBC.

Starbucks is in a unique position because its a daily lifestyle brand, meaning it can more easily fit into a story authentically. Other products like Clearasil, Dr. Pepper etc. need to work a little harder, and pay a little more to even be considered for placement. In the era of TiVO, Hulu and the like, where traditional 30second advertising is getting tossed by the way-side its critical for brands to get creative about sharing their story. Brands message either evolves or dies (so says Darwin and the girl who stepped back into advertising).

A few stats to chew on from the Canadian Business article:

  • 2006-2007 product placement in mass media grew 33.7%
  • 2007 -2008 product placement in mass media grew 39%
  • In 2008, $3.6billion was spent onproduct placement.
  • The last season of American Idol featured 4,636 instaces of product placement.

My Two Cents:

I think the only value American Idol has provided in its last 7 or 8 seasons is its incredibly creative product placement. They have provided Coke and Ford some great out-TiVoing opportunities).

For the Record....John Deere was never consulted on this product placement:

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