Product Placement: Could You be any More Obvious?

Television shows dominate the “5-day work week,” with people flocking home in the evening to make sure they catch their favorite show. As TV shows have grown more popular, so have their influence on people’s lives including next day conversation and what products people think about buying. Technology has created an age where a consumer can DVR or stream their favorite TV shows, meaning they can also fast forward right through all of the commercials. This new technology has led to the introduction of product placement in TV shows (Soba & Aydin 2013).


Over the years, companies have grown more aggressive in how they market their products during a show, for example Ford showcasing their cars in commercials, which have evolved into a three-minute segment in an episode of New Girl about the 2013 Ford Fusion. In Integrated Marketing Communication, product placement is an ideal and inexpensive platform for marketers to push a brand while at the same time providing customers a choice whether to accept or reject the product without the pressure of a sales environment (Soba & Aydin 2013).


Product placement is essentially the insertion of a brand into a form of media, like that of a TV show (Soba & Aydin 2013). These placements have become painfully obvious which can sometimes even make the show uncomfortable to watch. Hawaii 5-0, a very popular show on CBS had a blatantly obvious deal with Subway.



The increase of product placement begs a major question, is product placement really effective? Deliberate and poorly scripted brand awareness in a TV show can sometimes cause more harm than good. TV shows are sacred to many of its viewers and tainting a consumer’s beloved show with sidebars about Subway, Apple or Ford could be a real turn off for the product.

Some shows script in product placements better than others, almost poking fun at the brand while still promoting it in a less awkward way. The clip below is from Community, and although Subway is again the brand being showcased, it seems as though it was executed more successfully.



It appears that for now product placement is just getting started and isn’t going anywhere. This new brand awareness technique is an integral and growing part of Integrated Marketing Communication, but is this new marketing tactic an Achilles heel?


-Spencer Brenes