Advertising in the Digital Age


Subtle product placement and thanks to Top Gear the AMG has grown in popularity

Advertising is changing. It seems we are all getting more sophisticated and resistant to advertising messages, so brands have to get a lot smarter about how they market their products to us. Apparently we have become so blasé about ubiquitous ad messages that we simply filter them out and turn to the next page. Technology has also had a huge impact. For some years now digital recorders have allowed us to skip the commercial breaks and watch only the desired content. This is an issue for commercial TV stations, which depend on advertising to fund their output.

Product Placement in the Movies

Clearly the industry had to change and it has done just that. One of the innovations is in product placement. Product placement in movies has been around for a long time. Who could forget the Minis in the original ‘Italian Job’ — a placement that was successfully replayed in the remake. When James Bond switched to a BMW for 1995’s GoldenEye, it was big news. A Chevy Camaro was also a big hit in Transformers in 2007. We are all aware that the .44 Magnum is the ‘most powerful handgun in the world’ thanks to Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. Such placements can have dramatic effects. After appearing in the 2004 comedy, Sideways, which features two friends on an extended wine-tasting tour, sales of the star’s favourite brand of Pinot Noir increased by 150%.

Product Placement on TV

Product placement has long been a feature of TV shows in the US and in 2011 the ban on its use in the UK was lifted by the BBC.  This is a neat trick to get around digital recorders skipping advert breaks and has been used with great success. When it’s done well, it seems natural for the characters to be using the products and that can be a strong reinforcement for the brand.

Personal Example

A powerful type of advertising occurs when a trusted or admired personality uses a particular product without being paid to do so. Many car enthusiasts will be familiar with Top Gear, where the presenters get to test out all sorts of motoring exotica between going off on exciting adventures and destroying caravans. Motor-industry execs are rarely, if ever, allowed anywhere near the programme. Product placement is also still banned by the BBC, so we can be sure that reviews of cars featured are unbiased. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out what Jeremy Clarkson drives when he has to spend his own money? It turns out he has owned a succession of Mercedes AMG sports cars and the cars have also featured extensively on the show. The coverage is excellent news for the company and thanks to Top Gear the AMG has grown in popularity.

Using New Media Platforms

Prestige brands especially need to engage with their market in an intelligent way. One example is to use social-media platforms, personalities and new broadcast channels to reach the desired audience. A good example of this is the YouTube video from Mercedes, where the magician Dynamo and racing driver David Coulthard combine to make an intelligent and entertaining piece, which most would not recognise as advertising. And that may just be the point.



Image: Teerapun



You must be logged in to post a comment