Product Placement: License to Thrill

Product placement is prevalent in the film industry. Product placement stands out as a significant marketing strategy because it is one of the most direct attempts to gain commercial benefit from the environment and context within which a product is displayed or used. Not only can brands help to fund films but also certain films may create partnerships with certain brands for their characters.   Although brands can see immediate gains in sales with product placement, brands especially if used in a film franchise, can see a long-term benefit from association.

James Bond, one of the most successful and well-known film franchises, provides a platform for brands to timelessly associate themselves with the premium image that Bond portrays. Brands have been central to the Bond franchise, and the official website features a section devoted to the Bond franchises’ brand partners. This section listed on the 007 website, shows how integrated brand involvement is within the series. Though many brands have involved themselves with the Bond franchise, not all of them have instant recognition. However, Bond films provide a concrete platform to increase brand equity and establish brands long-term. Furthermore, brands can open themselves up to new categories just by being placed within a Bond film.

Some of the timeless brands embedded into the Bond franchise include Tom Ford, Omega, and Aston Martin. Tom Ford, who provides accessories and suits for James Bond, has created a fashion brand that features products with a price range that far exceeds the average budget. The Bond franchise has provided a long-term association for Tom Ford that will be seen over and over again, bringing in not only a new generation but establishing its brand as a classic. Furthermore, every Bond film features the newest Aston Martin, which has helped to establish the brands continued success. See the James Bond trailer below and look for product placement from the brands mentioned above.

The Bond franchise is a unique experience for companies seeking product placement. The franchise enables brands to gain an element of “cool” and be part of film history, creating memories for years, spanning generations, and appealing to a wide range of demographics. Being part of a Bond film provides a brand with a long-term return on investment that is potentially infinite and rewarding. An instance in which the franchise did not create a partnership for product placement occurred recently with Sony and Samsung for inclusion in the newest James Bond film, Spectre. The franchise opposed a multi million-dollar product placement for Sony or Samsung, because it believed these brands would tarnish the suave image of James Bond. The franchise seeks to use products associated with Bond’s character, which is portrayed as a character that enjoys products that are expensive, timeless, and sophisticated.

While the Bond franchise provides a unique platform for product placement, film franchises, such as Transformers uses product placement to mitigate costs. The 2014 Transformers film, Age of Extinction, featured 55 distinct brands (see how many different brands you can find in the clip above). The Transformer franchise features product placement that is not only blatant but also in-you-face, providing a different experience to those brands that are featured in the films. Films utilize product placement in different ways, sometimes to mitigate costs and other times to embrace and portray a certain feeling within a film. Whichever way a film uses product placement, brands see it as a valuable marketing strategy.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • Research other film franchises that feature heavy product placement. What type of films are these? Do you think the product matches the theme of the film?
  • Do you think the intended audience has an effect on which types of products are used in a film?
  • What types of benefits do brands receive for having their products placed in a film?