A few years ago HERO was approached for representation by one of the biggest players in the solar panel industry. While we felt that there weren’t enough high-profile opportunities to justify our program (the years that followed proved us correct), there was an element of their placement request that merits discussion.
This company didn’t care if its logo was included in any product placements or integrations. The company was so pervasive in its category that they believed any placement of a solar panel that could be influential to a potential customer would benefit them. Their contention was that all solar roads would lead to them, or at least a large percentage would. If we continue to expand on that philosophy, we could arrive at a startling realization; everything on screen is essentially a product placement.
Unless we are the Dalai Lama (though even his saffron robes are born of “marketing” and uniformity), we are influenced by what we see. That influence can be positive or negative depending on the source. If, for instance, our favorite actor is Seth MacFarland we may aspire to drive an Aston Martin as he does (good luck paying for it!) or if it’s Larry David, we might follow his lead to a Prius. But what about their personal style on screen? Do those direct our acquisitions? Of course they do. If Sofia Vergara is wearing a pair of Manolo Blahniks, women notice and if they like the way she’s rocking them, they want them as well. Even if they don’t see the name Manolo Blahnik, the organic appearance and implied endorsement are powerful.
So, taking the extra logical step, we can suggest that virtually everything we see on screen is a product placement. The cars, neighborhoods, foods, clothing and even make up and hair styles are all reliant on exposure to gain awareness. The term “product placement” is generally attributed to logoed brands or simply logos that show up in our entertainment, but truth be told, those are just the placements viewers can identify more easily. When celebrities Justin Timberlake and high-profile fictional characters like Don Draper put on stingy brim fedoras no logo is necessary and all of the makers and sellers of those hats benefit from the increased sales.