It’s a truism that people often say one thing and do another. So when UK consumers say they won’t be influenced by product placement on TV will they be true to their word and resist the emotional appeal of a brand being used by a show’s character, or will we find they did actually add the brand to their supermarket trolley the next day?
Since 28th February, UK programme-makers have been allowed to include product placement in their shows and films (thus being paid for the favourable inclusion of brands in the programme as opposed to the programme-makers simply buying in props). The first company to do this was Nestlé with its placement of its Dolce Gusto coffee machine on ITV’s This Morning. Yet according to a YouGov poll of 2,062 people conducted in the same week of the rule-change, 70% claimed that their perceptions of brands will not be changed when brands appear in paid-for slots in a TV show or film.
But if people really do remain uninfluenced when brands are shown in context – whether in a drama or lifestyle programme – why is it big business in countries like the USA? Product placement is said to add realism and relevance and as long as it is congruent to the programme, it can enhance reactions to brands. Of course there’s not much research on this in the public domain, after all why would marketing firms want to share their secrets? But one study which is available shows that people were significantly more likely to pick the product that they had seen featured in a clip, and product recall was greater for brands which had been integrated in to the storyline.
Of course time will tell whether product placement works in the UK, but my bet is on a positive reaction – so long as people don’t feel patronised by the logo that broadcasters must show to indicate that product placement is being used. It’ll be interesting to see too if it’ll stir up conventional TV advertising, which unlike product placement, is at the mercy of the fast forward button.
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