20 Years of Research on Product Placement in Movie, Television and Video Game Media

By Karisik, Vildan Jusufovic | Journal of Economic and Social Studies, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

20 Years of Research on Product Placement in Movie, Television and Video Game Media


Karisik, Vildan Jusufovic, Journal of Economic and Social Studies


Introduction

Product placement can be defined briefly as the inclusion of brand and/or brand identifying items within mass media programming such as cinema and TV (Karrh, 1998). The practice was first seen in the mid-1890s1. Product placement became a subject of interest for academia during the 1980s following the release of Spielberg's blockbuster film E.T. (1982). It was suggested that Hershey experienced a 66% increase in sales of their Reese's Pieces candy as a result of product placement in the film (Gupta and Lord, 1998; Gupta and Gould, 1997). Practitioner and scholarly interest in product placement has skyrocketed since then and product placement on the silver screen has spread to other mass media vehicles, particularly, TV.

Product placement on TV was rapidly adopted. The introduction of the DVR11, which is blamed for decreasing the effectiveness of traditional commercials, has encouraged advertisers to constantly search for viable alternatives. Product placement offers an alternative with several advantages over the venerable 30-second commercial.

First, product placement ensures that the advertiser's message is integrated within the program content. Thus, the TV audience, who mostly opt to zap to other channels when commercials begin (Altaç and Oztunç, 2013), cannot easily avoid product placements. Second, product placement is less intrusive. Placed products are perceived as more natural and credible by the audience, generating favorable consumer associations and goodwill. Traditional commercials are liable to activate the Persuasion Knowledge Model111 that is referenced in the marketing literature (Reijmersdal et al., 2007; d'Astous and Chartier, 1998). Third, placements are often more economical than traditional commercials. A season-length placement within a prime-time TV program costs, on average, $200,000 in the United States; whereas a single 30-second commercial within the same type of prime-time programing costs approximately $475,000 (Wells, 1996, in Law and Braun, 2000).

Soon, product placements began appearing within media vehicles other than movies and TV programmes. Especially, video games1T started to use very often product placements as a way to add verisimilitude to their virtual worlds. Dole branded bananas in Super Monkey Ball (2001), Sony Ericsson phones in Splinter Cell (2002), Nike, Adidas, Umbro uniforms, crampons in Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) and FIFA games (2008) are examples of video game product placements. Notwithstanding this, there are also instances in which product placements appear within songs (Volvo cars, Aldo shoes in I don't give a named song by Madonna, 2012), music videos (Sony Xperia in Avril Lavigne's music video Rock N Roll), even novels. To illustrate, British writer Fay Weldon accepted financing from Italian jewellery company, Bulgari, in return to prominently mention the firm and its products in her novel. In fact, Weldon did more than merely mention Bulgari; she integrated Bulgari to the plot and named her 2001 book "The Bulgari Connection", thus earning the renown as the first novel with paid product placement.

Prevalence of product placement practice on different media channels has thus been on rise. However, just as Karrh (1998) noted, academic research on product placement could not keep pace with the growth of its practice. Consequently, a review of the extant literature on product placement research that will provide the current status and identify research gaps will be of high value for both scholars and practitioners. This paper aims at fulfilling this purpose through reviewing, categorizing and analyzing studies which investigated product placement practice particularly in movies, TV programmes and video games.

Paper is further organized in four main sections. The next section presents the analysis of the reviewed literature that was adopted for the purposes of this study, with its scope, methodology, and framework detailly explained. …

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