Today marks the first ever paid product placement on UK television according to Marketing Week with Nestle’s Dolce Gusto coffee appearing on ITV’s show This Morning.
It is my belief that engagement is a core part of communicating a message to the end user. It is only by engaging that person and providing them with valuable content which has real meaning to them that they can be persuaded to take on a product or service
How well can product placement achieve this aim though and, if it can’t, how will it work?
Consider the product in question. In this case, I can certainly see contextual links between the coffee making machine and the morning-time lifestyle show. I’d also assume that the advertising agency has conducted the relevant market research to ensure they reach their key demographic through This Morning – so, they’re taking the product to the area in which their audience is active. Big tick there then!
BUT… once it’s there, what is the product actually doing to say to customers ‘this is how I can benefit you’?
Subliminal advertising may have been popular ‘back in the day’ with audiences led to purchase/convert by suggestion through images displayed for milliseconds. But I question whether today’s far more advert-savvy audiences can be so easily led. A product shown in the background of a TV programme is surely not enough to make you want that product – even if it can influence you, isn’t it likely the audience will want a coffee rather than that particular brand of coffee maker? Is the engagement with the product on screen enough to cause audiences to recall the product and choose it during their next shop?
Wouldn’t it be more productive to connect with the audience in another way? Again, only time will tell but I’ll be interested to see, for example, how an on screen review compares to product placement in terms of impact on actual sales, with audiences hearing examples of how the product can benefit them with validation from the experiences of others rather than just being shown the item.
For me, it’s all got to be about engagement and providing something of real value to a person by delivering it wherever they are active to them and allowing them to connect – perhaps Nestle could have created a Facebook page for their existing customers to ‘like’, encouraging more people to ‘like’ and driving engagement through sharing of recipes or chances to win free samples; maybe they could have given free coffee makers to a range of large and small businesses and asked them to film and document the use it got and the effect it had on the workers in that office. But then, maybe this will work for them too! Only time will tell.