Just as we release the 2015 Brandcameo Movie Product Placement Awards comes a new survey that finds the practice is both here to stay and is becoming both more acceptable and more effective.
The survey of over 1,300 consumers, brands and agencies was conducted by Hollywood Branded, an entertainment marketing consultancy responsible for, among other things, putting bottles of Canadian Club on Don Draper’s desk in Mad Men.
The study found that audiences are, with a number of caveats, largely accepting of product placement in their entertainment. Plus, a majority report they made a purchasing decision that was, in part, directly influenced by product placement.
Below, a few takeaways from our exclusive look inside the 2015 Entertainment Marketing Survey as well a short discussion with Hollywood Branded’s CEO about what the report doesn’t say. [more]
The 52-page 2015 Entertainment Marketing Survey finds that entertainment marketing, including product placement and branded entertainment, is a growing business.
Fully 46 percent of brand marketers said that 10 to 30 percent of their entire budget these days goes to entertainment marketing. Moreover, 26 percent of surveyed brands said that their future entertainment marketing budgets would be increasing, with 29 percent saying that increase would be greater than for any other marketing activities.
As expected, agencies think more highly of entertainment marketing than brands, with 32 percent of the latter feeling product placement/brand integration was beneficial and 80 percent of the former thinking so. Indeed, Hollywood Branded boasts that Canadian Club has enjoyed 4.3 percent annual sales growth since its addition to the Mad Men cast.
One final interesting takeaway of the agency/brand side of the survey is the focus on analytics and ROI, historically the thorn in the side of product placement. While respondents did have useful and cobbled together methods of measuring the effectiveness of product placement efforts, some kind of standardized ROI measurement system is still in demand.
Where the survey gets most interesting is with the consumer responses.
More than half of respondents, just barely at 51 percent, said they are aware of having made “a purchase based on seeing a product in a TV show or feature film.” Given the scarcity of product placement (compared to conventional advertising) that’s an eye-opening number. What’s more, the study found that the more favorable the celebrity the better opportunity for the attached brand.
But as it’s ever been, consumers’ positive opinion of products in their entertainment comes with heavy contingencies. Hollywood Branded gave Brandchannel exclusive access to the survey’s database of comments and by far and away the most commonly appearing words were “subtle,” “organic,” and “forced.”
Comment after comment started out with a positive opinion of the practice in general only to add a clause that good product placement and bad product placement are but a razor’s edge from each other. The clear message from audiences? Product placement is cool, but overdo it at your peril.
One interesting takeaway was that consumers and agencies are not always on the same page when it comes to what products might benefit the most from placements. For example, while consumers thought websites and software were good matches for entertainment placements, agencies placed them a “distant last.”
We still had a few lingering questions about the findings and got in touch with Stacy Jones, the CEO Hollywood Branded Inc.
brandchannel: What surprised you most about the results of the survey?
Jones: We thought there would be more negative consumer feedback provided about the practice of product placement in the survey responses. Instead, feedback received was extremely constructive in mindset and supportive of the practice.
bc: Any other surprises?
In our open response section of the survey, the question was asked about personal beliefs about entertainment marketing, and there were numerous unsolicited examples provided by consumers of actual brands and product lines that were purchased knowingly stemming from a placement seen on-screen.
That question and an expansion of it will be an actual question in future surveys conducted by our agency.
bc: What other trends did the report identify?
Jones: The survey also provides detail into the fact that agency and brand marketers have moved away from consumer impression data and put more focus on social media triggers. The two other top performing metrics include website traffic increase and actual sales or trackable action taken by the consumer. In fourth place was consumer impressions of the campaign.
There really is so much data from this that shows the strength of product placement and celebrity endorsement, that we were less surprised by data than encouraged by the feedback as an agency whose business revolves around these practices of creating consumer engagement campaigns leveraging entertainment and celebrity.
bc: Why do you think it is consumers believe women under 25 to be the most receptive to entertainment marketing?
Jones: People tend to think young women are the most receptive to entertainment marketing due to the perception of their high ability to be influence through friends and interest in keeping with the top trends. The demographic is image conscious and concerned about their image aligning to those of their peers and trendsetters.
Seeing a celebrity endorse a product, whether subtly through product placement or through media-driven celebrity endorsement campaigns, highly impacts this specified demographic.
bc: Consumers stated that “consumer electronics” benefited most from product placement. Yet brands like Microsoft have poured money into PP and not gained much detectable market share. Could it be that consumers are confusing most benefit with “seen the most often”?
Jones: Being seen the most often obviously lends itself to having a category such as consumer electronics be viewed as top of mind by consumers, but that stems from the sheer number of organic opportunities for that specific category of brand to be organically interwoven into content.
Brands like Apple, BlackBerry and Dell have obtained tremendous organic placement over the years due to the companies product placement programs which have tended to support via concentrated product loan versus just standalone high ad dollar integrations.
Microsoft has tended to try to create a lot of big bang presence through leveraged media buys with scripted brand integration, without the organic base these other brands have established, and that may be why you see a lowered return on their investment into the practice.