Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Invading the content (Part 2)

Continued from part 1

The evolution of product placements in Advertising.......

Three evolution phases...

Spot advertising

It all started as simple commercial breaks in Television. Doordarshan monopolised the Indian skies and they had fixed timings as to how many minutes of a half an hour programme could be earmarked for commercial advertising. When the skies opened up, the whole scenario changed in favour of TRP ratings and Day parts.

In their unquenchable quest for making money, channels and programmes filled the airspace with ads and more ads. In the whole process all the parties – the advertiser, the media, and the advertising agencies- had smiles all the way but the audience started despising the whole thing. Spot advertising as the common commercial break advertising is called has clearly lost its charm when it comes to ROI.


The sponsorship culture, evolved where prominent marketers- only the big ones could afford- got associated with popular programmes in media or with events like, Olympics and capitalized on the popularity of the programmes. Close Up Anthakshari in the north and Pepsi Ungal Choice in the south were such programmes, which rode on this ‘symbiosis model’. This model was the best for enabling passive learning to the target group (TG), where the advertiser was not blaring his horn from the rooftop. More over it is established by research that the virtues of a popular programme gets transferred to the sponsor and that up to an extent justifies the high spends. But they are prohibitively costly and could be afforded only by the juggernauts and it turned out to be a mutually deceiving exercise for the corporates and the sellers, about which Sergio Zyman has sarcastically commented-“Traditionally, the goal of sponsorship selling has been to find the biggest fool in the market". The next phase of the evolution, thus was just waiting to happen.

Product placements

Product placements have evolved as serendipity, as academic researchers vouch. The practice of using branded props in movies started as a casual process. Branded items were simply donated loaned or purchased for particular movie scenes to enhance their artistic qualities .But the growth to a fully commercial one was gradual. James Bond and the Austin Martin are famous among the examples of product placements in western cinema but it took time for advertisers to fully capitalise on the new opportunity, particularly in TV. Indian advertisers clearly took time to understand what really was happening. Unlike Advertising in commercial breaks and sponsorships, product placements, particularly subdued placing was able to actively contribute to brand recall and this mesmerized the advertisers. Now advertising agencies are having full fledged product placement divisions like the case of Leo Entertainment, a division of Leo Burnett
, which made the Thums Up placement a ravishing success in the popular Hindi film Kaante.However, all is not fine here either, because for the first time broadcasters and producers of programmes decided whether the heroine would use a Sunsilk or a Head & Shoulders, or for that matter she will take bath or not, in that episode.
This evolution is still happening and the future of product placements is yet to unravel to its full, but one emerging issue is -how far can the invasion of content be accepted without the TG noticing and breaking their silence.

To be continued>>>>>>>>>>>

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