Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tiger Woods returned to the world of golf this week, and he returned to the world of advertising with this commercial for Nike. The commercial is a strange one as it has nothing to do with the brand, at least there's nothing "brand worthy" that I can discern. It seems to me like a favor one does for a friend who has fallen and needs help getting up. I've utilized the religious metaphor for resurrection for the ways in which we treat some fallen media figures whose stature we want to see restored. Tiger Woods certainly is not the first media figure to have fallen off the proverbial bar stool, only to later see his media persona restored. Well, we'll have to see what happens with TW. The gossip mill still seems to be churning this story, and of course, we'll have to see how well he does in his return to golf. One of these will likely affect the other. By that I mean, if he does well in the Masters, many people will lose their interest in the gossip. Done Deal. If he fails to make the cut, however, there will be a lot of finger wagging. Will other brands join Nike? We'll have to wait and see. Nike is taking a bit of a risk. The last thing they'd want to do is harm the brand. But sticking by a friend is a noble gesture, and the company may score some points for that. Let's hope Tiger does the same.
We’ve recently been discussing the power of celebrity, in particular the imaginary relationships we form and maintain with media figures. Sometimes those relationships provide the motivation to use a particular product or cut your hair in a way that emulates the celebrity, among many other possibilities. NBC television appears to understand the potential influence of television characters and the stars that portray them as they enter into a Faustian bargain with marketers by including politically and socially correct messages in programming, something they call “behavior placement.” Behavior placement, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, is not unlike something we’ve talked about – product placement. The idea is that by including politically or socially correct ideas, like going green, within storylines the network wants to kill two proverbial birds with one stone: they want to influence behavior, and they want to use these ideological positions to sell advertising. The article describes one scenario where a hybrid vehicle is featured in a particular dramatic context. Including something that subtle may be appealing to hybrid automakers that may, on that very basis, choose to buy advertising time during the program. The network has announced they will include within regularly scheduled programs features on healthy eating and exercise. Again, scenarios are being written into scripts in order to create a symbiotic relationship between what the viewer should do (exercise regularly) and what the advertiser wants the consumer to do (purchase Healthy Choice meals). This sounds a lot like propaganda to me. NBC, I guess, can feel good that they are touting ideas about health and the environment, but their motives simply are not pure. I’m curious to see if I can pick up any of these idea “placements.” But I guess that means I’ll have to actually pay close attention to what’s on the scene; something I really don’t like to do.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I know that by now you’re familiar with the Lady Gaga video featuring a jar of Miracle Whip. The video is replete with brands, some of which paid for their placement in the video and others who did not. In the case of Miracle Whip, they paid, because the brand is entering into a campaign to reposition the product to reach a younger audience, and Lady Gaga certainly reaches a younger audience.
The recently launched iPad, too, has found its way into television programs, like Modern Family. A Wall Street Journal article reports research by Nielsen indicating that Apple products have found placement “722 times on TV programs last year.” The article goes on to report that Apple never pays for product placement.
The New York Times reports in a similar vein that movie producers are moving in the direction of using more and more product placements. Not that they didn’t use them before, but now scripts are being written with products in mind. Although, product placement isn’t going to go away, from a larger perspective the over-commercialization of the culture is in my opinion not a particularly good thing. Can materialism go to too far? I guess I’m of a mind that we get the culture we deserve, so if consumers are willing to tolerate product placement, then we can expect more of it. That is what the animated film Logorama that I wrote about a few weeks ago was trying to point out. In the case of product placement, freebees or paid, should the marketer participate in this system, which is somewhat symbiotic? In other words, is there a place for restraint and perhaps social responsibility? But writing scripts with products in mind and the over-placement of products in various media, to my way of thinking, may be overkill. Anyone want to start a movement?