It’s a little bit fascinating and a lot perplexing that there is so much debate – in Europe, North America and elsewhere – over product placement and brand integration in entertainment content. [See the Advertising Age article "How European Media Companies Are Dealing With Product Placement."]
If the goal of a television show, movie, web site content or even a game is to truly engage an audience, then the presence of actual brands in that content is completely natural.
As I sit at my desk writing this, I have an Ice Mountain water bottle within reach. The Holmes fan is circulating air in an otherwise stuffy space. My Macbook Pro is making this blog post possible – as long as my Avaya phone doesn’t ring or I don’t grab that bottle of Windex to clean my Quartet white board.
When I get home and enter my Pella door I’ll sweep into my kitchen filled with an Asko dishwasher, Kitchenaid refrigerator and other brand-name appliances. Maybe I’ll sip a San Pellegrino water at my Silestone island counter from Crate and Barrel glassware while watching the news (OK, actually John Stewart and Stephen Colbert repeats) on my Sharp Aquos TV.
The point is, our real lives are immersed in brands. We see and hear them. Touch them. Use them. And have full-on visual contact with logos. Everyday. Everywhere. It’s normal.
So why shouldn’t we see them in our entertainment content? Is it more honest to sanitize content of actual brands, possibly making the setting less relatable? They sure think so in Denmark, where any product placement is banned. (Alas, what would Hamlet think? Would he even care?)
And so what if money has changed hands to get the brands into the scene. Last time I checked honest consumers have been happy to give money to get branded items into their lives.
Most people are savvy when it comes to consuming content. If a product placement feels forced or insincere, people will direct their attention elsewhere. More folks, by far, get duped by phone and online phishing schemes than they do from product placement.
So, let’s get over the hysteria and get on with the show. And that means letting audiences make their own decisions about how well they like or dislike brands in their daily dose of entertainment.