Product placement has been rampant in the US for sometime; Zeitgeist has commented on it before, as well as its close cousin, contextual advertising. Part of the Zeitgeist team thinks the show 30 Rock is consistently the funniest thing to ever grace their torrent-hungry laptop, and in the episode Generalissimo, the LatAm tendency for “branded-entertainment projects” is gloriously parodied (see a Latin Alec Baldwin, above).
While the UK continues to struggle with implications of such things and Lady Gaga’s new music video makes her a ‘product placement lady of the night’ the New York Times reported yesterday that the Spanish-language network Telemundo is “expanding” the idea, by having new products created specifically for the show that will then be available to buy.
“Telemundo already works with advertisers like… Ford, Subway, T-Mobile and Toyota… The new deals will create products that would not otherwise exist for viewers to buy. The first products will be jewelry, made by the Richline Group… which is to be worn in an episode of the telenovela “El Clon” (“The Clone”) to be broadcast on Telemundo at 8 p.m. on April 22. The jewelry is already available for sale on the Telemundo Web site (telemundo.com).” PSFK comments, “The beauty of this announcement is that it reflects the increasingly targeted capabilities available to brands via product integration, if they choose to exercise that option.”
As the media industry trade mag Variety reports this week, the annual “upfronts” for TV are in full swing. This is when TV executives put on an attractive show for the advertisers, in order to convince them that their shows are worthy of being invested in with some big brand names for those thirty-second ad breaks. What last year was a moribund affair – as the major US networks struggled with the economic downturn – has improved notably this year due to complex negotiations and a somewhat more bullish ad market. Variety notes that the iPad and its myrmidons will be a significant part of the push, as well as mid-end restaurants trying to lure back the consumers they lost to cheaper rivals and even a resurgence in the automotive category.
According to a Nielsen study undertaken at the end of last year, the average American watches about 140 hours of TV every month, “including more than seven hours via DVR [i.e. TiVo / Sky+] and another 3.5 hours via the Internet”. The TelecomPaper reported this morning that weekly internet usage has overtaken TV watching in Canada.
Digital expenditure remains a small piece of the pie for the TV industry. President of sales for Fox Broadcasting Jon Nesvig bemoans the lack of a “common measurement system” for both on and offline; digital spend for the moment remains a brand-building exercise rather than accruing a return on investment. The “old-fashioned 30-second spots still pay most of the rent”. Product placement also plays a large part in the US, while the UK continues to grapple with the implications of it. One interesting recent development is that of contextual advertising. As Variety explains, this means “… having spots run adjacent to relevant subject matter in programming. For example… a scene with a car crash in ‘The Bourne Identity’ transitions into a spot for the On-Star automobile security system.” Full measurement and integration of all platforms is clearly a way off yet, however when it happens expect digital ad spend to rocket up.