Thursday, April 8, 2010
Behavior Placement - The new product placement
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.