My article as appeared in the Advertising express magazine of February 2010......
Mandira Bedi, in sizzling attire walked around the sets of “Deal ya no deal” and in between made calls from her mobile and attends them, the mobile phone makers name is visible, and the CSP’s jingle goes on air again and again in what would look to the common viewer as just another happening. Big B, in KBC2 signed in a particular bank’s cheque and made sure that it is shown to the camera, to get full attention of the viewers. So Did SRK and many others. It has been here for long. The Rishi Kapoor starrer “Karz”, is one example where an entire song was shot with a back drop of Emami , the skin care brand. It is still going on and his son and the “Rocket Singh” film,I am told is full of brands that make a parade.
All these are examples of product placements in Indian TV programmes and cinema. But the hero of a popular serial in star plus who got affianced in a Fair and lovely commercial would score the first position for being innovative to the core … the commercial went on an on in the serial (in the serial and not in between) and that irritated a few eyeballs, but crept in passively into most of the brains that saw it. The quest is on-- to place products in TV programmes without causing audience frustration and yet delivering the message.
The Ofcom Broadcasting Code of UK defines product placement as “the inclusion of, or reference to, a product or service within Cinema or a TV programme in return for payment or other valuable consideration”.
Practically speaking, Product placement is a marketing practice intended to purposely slot in products and brands into the body and content of cinema and programs in TV which in most cases is done in a delicate manner so that the main content of the program (the story line in the cinema) is not diluted. That is an ideal situation, which is often violated and people are driven to believe that the programme makers have more fish to fry than it meets the eye.
Types and effectiveness
As TAM India describes,there are three kinds of product placement in film content – Hyperactive Placements, Active Placements and Passive Placements.
1. Hyperactive Placements: - It happens when the product placement is blunt and blaring and no attempt whatsoever is made to distinguish between the programme content and the product in question. Ramya Krishnan and her description of the famous Chennai jeweler in the Sun TV programme Thanga vettai shall be quoted here. Hyperactive placements, which is accompanied by a supportive trigger (Like an ad of the product in the consecutive commercial break) leads to a big increase in brand awareness
2. Active Placements, are again showing products or making the name heard in overt fashion, such as a man talking about a Maruthi Zen and later driving away in one. The Hindi film “Guru” and the 1960 mercedes benz is an example. An Active Placement, when with an additional trigger, according to studies, leads to a 17 per cent increase in brand awareness. Spykar Jeans and the way it is smartly inbuilt in the script of the block buster move Namaste London falls in this category. The same film also incorporated other brands like “Bharat Matrimony.com, Hutch small recharge and a host of others in it.
3. Passive Placements are subtle insertion of the product in the programme without making it too very obvious. Surprisingly in India it is more effective than the other two particularly in films and programmes when combined with an additional trigger, led to a whopping 191 per cent increase in brand awareness. If you have seen the film “Chak de India” the way brands like Aaj tak, ESPN, Ultra tech cement and Puma was built in passively will prove the point. Mc Donald’s in the same film, where a main twist of the story happens ,didn’t stare at the viewer but helped a lot in building the brands Indian ness, passively.
Depending on the indispensability of the placement, (Russel 1998) has identified three major types of product placements- i.e. screen placements, script placements and plot placements.
Based on the level of incorporation and the intensity of the merger with the story line, product placements on the silver screen is classified into three--Implicit, non integrated explicit and integrated explicit (d’Astous and Seguin 1998).
The more explicit it is, the more will be the unholy relation between the partners of the total programme. However and whatever be the types, Product placements are on the rise. In the overall ad spends of brands in 2004 where it was just a 3 % allotted for product placements now it has gone up to six per cent last year and analysts predict that by 2007, product placements would include almost 12-15 per cent of the total advertising spends of brands.
Why product placements increase?
a. Easy and big money- for the product placement agency and for the programme producer
b. Absence of legal restrictions, clearly defining the border line between programme/editorial content and Advertising.
c. Commercial break ads are not taken seriously and are not considered trustworthy. In programme placements rectify this negative perception by facilitating passive learning.
d. Increasing operational costs for broadcast houses makes it imperative for them to looks for other revenue sources.
e. Clutter and audience fragmentation is making the world of commercial breaks increasingly murky and this makes product placements grow.
To be continued.....