Brand Placement

Posted: November 3, 2010 in branding, marketing
Tags: , , , , ,


Marketing communication is one of the major elements of four ‘P’s of marketing literature, and is popularly termed as “Promotion.” With the help of marketing communication, marketers attempt to inform, persuade, incite, and remind consumers directly or indirectly about their marketing offers. Marketing communication plays a vital role in overall branding strategy of a marketer. Effective communication helps marketers to maintain an enduring link with consumers and in turn may enhance value and relationship capacity of their brands. Through communication, marketers try to cement their brand name in the mind of the target consumers to increase intention to buy. In recent times, due to an overcrowded competitive market and media clutter, consumers are slow to recognize and respond to communication through conventional media. To break the clutter, marketers are trying alternative media to create a bond with their consumers. Among existing alternatives, product placement in film and television program is becoming essential part of a successful communication plan. But, there is no clear guideline to the marketers to chart an error free communication strategy through brand placement.

Ultimate goal of marketing is to generate an intense bond between the consumer and the brand. Brands have become the focal point of many a company’s marketing efforts and are seen as a source of market power, competitive leverage and higher returns, describes the relationship between consumers and brands as a multifaceted construct to capture the richness of fabric from which brand relationships arise. The brand concept goes beyond the product concept. A product delivers certain tangible benefits, but a brand offers both tangible and intangible benefits. In marketing, the term “brand” is typically applied to firms, products, and services, and in general, marketers accept that brands may be described in terms of perceived quality, image, and so forth. In recent times, marketing environment of industries is changing very fast due to increasing consumer bargain power, complex competitive dynamics, and easy media accessibility. These have made it difficult for a marketer to formulate a full proof branding strategy for performing profitably in the long run. In this context, marketing communication plays a vital role in overall branding strategy of a marketer.

Recent Trends

In practice, there are different available elements of communication to marketers. Depending on the various modes of communication i.e. either verbal or nonverbal, marketers choose different elements to communicate with their consumers. Five major elements of communication are advertising, sales promotion, PR, personal selling and direct response

Media. Schultz and Kitchen (2000), suggested that ‘the marketing and communication manager of the 21st century must recognize that there are multiple markets, multiple marketplaces, multiple customers, multiple channels, and multiple media’. In the past, competition was not so intense and marketers were able to communicate easily with their target segment through available media options. To break the clutter, marketers are trying alternative media like internet, mobile networks, and product placement to create a bond with their consumers. Among existing alternatives, product placement in film and television programme is becoming essential part of a successful communication plan. Advertisers often make the reasonable assumption that, by building associations with these programmes and stars through brand placement, they can reinforce and build brand image across national and cultural boundaries.

Brand Placement: An introduction

Brand placements started in films since 1940, but it accelerated in recent past

In reality, products were present all along in films or television programmes but once these products were identified as a “brand” of a certain manufacturer, it became a paid form of placement. The origins of product placement can be found in the 1930’s, when US tobacco companies paid movie stars and sporting heroes to endorse their brands. So, it is more relevant to use the term ‘brand placement’ in place of ‘product placement’. According to

Balasubramanian (1994), brand placement is a paid product message, aimed at influencing movie and /or television audiences via the planned and unobtrusive entry of a branded product.

Placement of Sony Vaio in James Bond Movie -Quantum Of Solace

Objectives of Brand Placement

The objective of brand placement as a communication strategy is to increase consumer awareness and create a positive impact on consumer preference and intention to buy

Other objectives include:

  • Enhancing consumer’s attitude towards the placement prominent placements could perform better than television advertising in inducing recall.
  • People recognize or recall brands placed in movies or television brand appearance in feature film impact short-term purchase intention.
  • Treating product as ‘hero’ leads to positive sales result. Multinational marketers select brand placements over advertising because “the number of tickets sold for a moderately successful movie worldwide well exceeds the reach of an average advertisement”.

So, we may say that the basic objectives of brand placement are of five folds. It expects:

  • Increase awareness about the brand
  • Easy recall
  • A rising intention to buy
  • High enquiry about the brand
  • Development of a positive image of the brand

Type of placement:

To ensure maximum benefit from brand placement, advertiser should think about type of placemat. Brand Placement may be of three types

  • Visual only i.e. showing the brand without any sound or voiceover. (In India, The BSA SLR bike featured as a hero of sorts in the film ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar)’.
  • Audio only i.e. mention a brand message on the audio track and without any visual presentation (It can be seen in the Hindi film ‘Masti’ where Vivek Oberoi’s character laments to his friends about his ever-present and watchful wife saying, “Itni badi chipku hai ki Fevicolwale use sponsor kar denge” (She’s so hard to get rid of Fevicol would sponsor her).
  • Both audio and visual i.e. showing and mentioning the brand at the same time ( for example In India, in film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, the main character Shah Rukh Khan mentioned the brand name while downing a canned Stroh’s an American beer).

Factors Affecting Brand Placement Integration

There are two major types of factors that determine successful integration of brand placement in the film/programme. These are: internal and external factors.

Internal Factors are:

  • Placing of the brand into the plot i.e. how the brand is being introduced in the event.
  • Number of other products placed i.e. presence of other competitive brands as well as other non competitive brands. A large number of brands in a plot reduces the retention rate.
  • Type of placement: Prominent or subtle i.e. whether the brand is a central theme of the plot (like Safari in Road) or it is placed as part of the story (like Western Union Money Transfer in Viruddh).
  • Involvement intensity i.e. whether brand is only present in the film/ programme or it has included itself in the total promotional plan of the film. For example, Allen Solly has taken part in the pre-release promotion of the film ‘Corporate’ by communicating the news that it’s a part of corporate outfit.

External factors are:

  • Performance of the film/programme
  • Shelf life of the film
  • Culture of the society
  • Legal barriers

Benefits of Brand Placement

  • Persuasive communication: power to convince audience in favour of the brand
  • Uninterrupted presence: be a part of the situation and gain exposure automatically
  • Breaking ad clutter: out of crowd media place with commercial messages
  • Broad and easy reach: long area coverage because of wide reach
  • Cost effective: in terms of cost per contact over time
  • Non-aggressive: as a part of the event, role of brand is expected and accepted
  • Logical presentation: convincing because of its linkage with the events
  • New product launch: it helps to launch a brand and increase curiosity


From the above discussion of strategic road map we may conclude that brand placement offers a promotional tool that may prove powerful in influencing subsequent target viewers in terms of recall and recognition of brand. Advertiser should be clear enough about the linkage or fit of the brand in the plot of the film and programme. They should be clear about any trade-off between their business-led plan and director’s creative-led plan. Further, it propagates that movie-viewing frequency and attitude of viewer about the placement play vital role. For multinational brands, culture of the host country is important. Globally released films may be well aware about the effect of placement in different viewing countries. At the end, a right mix among plot, type of placement, brand image may invite a synergy in terms of communication through brand placement.

– by Shreye Mehtani ( Batch of 2011)


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