In-film advertising has been around since a long time. Product placement, brand integration or embedded marketing, is according to Business Dictionary, “an advertising technique used by companies to subtly promote their products through a non-traditional advertising technique, usually through appearances in film, television, or other media.”
Product placement stands out as a marketing strategy because it is the most direct attempt to derive commercial benefit from “the context and environment within which the product is displayed or used”. The technique can be beneficial for viewers, since interruptive advertising removes them from the entertainment.
Internationally, Lumière brothers started product placement in films, Thomas Edison turned it into a viable part of the film business, using branded rail lines and cigarettes in his films . By the 1920s, American films were selling products worldwide. For instance, a Brazilian lumber baron started using an American-made saw blade after seeing one used in an American film. The motion picture is the greatest agency for promoting the sales of American-made products throughout the world. Many early product placements were cross promotions in which the films would feature products and the product manufacturers would create advertisements promoting the film. The New York Times noted the trend of brands getting their products in films in a 1929 article. According to the Times (1929), “Automobile manufacturers graciously offer the free use of high-priced cars to studios.
Expensive furnishings for a set are willingly supplied by the makers, and even donated as permanent studio property,” and also “agents eager for publicity for jewelry or wearing apparel approach movie stars directly.” The article also states that there were times when monetary compensation was offered. By the 1940s product placement specialists at public relations firms and advertising agencies became known as exploitation agents. It was not until the end of the 1940s that product placements, or tie-ups as they were called, became profitable. The director of Love Happy, the Marx Brothers’ final film, sold signage in the climax of the movie to three companies. In the 50s and the 60s, studios had lists of contacts for tie-up merchandise and by the 70s, some production companies kept warehouses stocked with brand-name props ready for use. Finally, in 1982, the use of Reese’s Pieces in the film E.T. brought the practice of product placement to the forefront and inspired scholarly research on the practice.
In India, some of the product placements in Hindi movies in recent times are Movie: Aashiqui 2 Brand : Diet Coke Movie : Murder 3 Brand : Vespa Movie : Bodyguard Brand : Audi Movie : Krrish Brand : Bourn Vita Movie : Bodyguard Brand : Sony vaio Hershey’s chocolate was shown in Oscar winning silent Hollywood film Wings In India, Coca Cola first did in film branding in 1958 film “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi”. Aggressive growth is being seen in in-film branding now. Don2 : Tag Heuer, Motorola, Garnier, Citibank, Louis Philippe Dhoom 2 : Coke, Pennzoil, Pepe Jeans, Sony, Disney channel, Sugar Free, McDonalds, Speed, Suzuki Zeus Lage Raho Munnabhai : Worldspace, Go Air, MSN, Good Day, Kurkure, Bright Outdoor, Reliance Communications Krrish : Singapore Tourism Board, Sony, John Players, Bournvita, Tide, Hero Honda, Boro Plus, Lifebuoy, HP Power, Acron Rangeela, Hansaplast, Lays Rang De Basanti : Coca-Cola, Airtel, LG, Berger and Provogue.
And, in-film placements have gone beyond product appearances and superstar testimonials. Today, brand names appear in song lyrics (Fevicol) and film titles (Mere Dad Ki Maruti). Of course, there’s still no way to measure ROI on in-film branding. However, after ‘’Mere Dad Ki Maruti’’ released, the Ertiga saw a 30 per cent spike in test drives and enquiries. And around that time, there was no other advertising for the brand on air. Measurable or not, subliminal or shameless, the fact is, in-film brand placements are on the rise. So what makes the present times so conducive to in-film branding? The main reason is the exorbitant endorsement fees charged by leading actors today, brand tie-ups with films starring them seem like a cheaper way to get access to the rub-off effect of these stars. The in-film branding industry is now growing by leaps and bounds and is soon going to change the media landscape altogether.