Browsing Tag

product placement

Malick Ba

Stranger Things 2: Advertising, Branding, and Emotion.

October 31, 2017

Just to preface, there may be a spoiler alert in this article to those who haven’t committed watching the series yet (but nothing serious…so keep reading).


We touched on this briefly in last week’s recap, but we couldn’t not talk about the second season of Stranger Things. The Netflix mega-hit from last year is back and creepier than ever. One of the most successful aspects of the series is how well it plays tribute to the 80’s. What do I mean by this? Literally everything in the show is relevant to the time it’s in. The music, the clothing, the style, everything. One of the coolest parts about the series is how they kept brands that they have showcased intact to keep them contextually relevant as well. Ultimately, they’ve amplified their 80’s style theme by keeping ads the characters see on TV within the show, to adapt to the time they are in.For example. In the first few episodes, we know that the character 11 (or Elle), is obsessed with watching TV. As she’s flipping through channels, she sees an ad for Oreo’s that’s very…old fashioned let’s call it. While it’s such a minor detail, by having the advertisement on TV within the show that reflects the style of the times, viewers really get a sense of nostalgia. By evoking this emotion out of the viewers (even if it’s the simplest of ads), it increases the level of brand equity and loyalty. Especially for the people who grew up during that time and remember that specific commercial!

Another incredibly well thought out piece of product placement was within the same episode. The scene where Steve and Nancy are having a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner at Barbara’s parents place. What I loved about this scene is that it reminds me of a classic American dinner that I’ve never actually had. With the classic branding (striped bucket and name not just being what I know as “KFC”), and a relevant context, it’s like product placement, but like, the good kind of product placement. One of the characters even threw in the “It’s finger lickin’ good!” line, which was a nice throwback.

Ultimately, the show brings back a nostalgic feeling in many viewers by showcasing products and brands from the 80’s in a relevant context to the show’s timeline. What I love about this is the dedication to showcase these brands in line and style with the timeline of the show without feel like it’s a blatant ad. For most people, seeing ads in this context brings evokes an emotion that can only be derived from nostalgia. I know it’s a specific selection, but the brands that were showcased got a chance to bring out that feeling for people engaged with those brands. it’s a great way to bring awareness to these brands while still being relevant in terms of the context of the show.

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.



Placement vs Integration: Why Being Blatant Just Doesn’t Cut It

March 31, 2017

Guest Article By: Regan Bartlett-Green


We’ve all had those moments where we’ve been sitting on the couch watching a movie and are struck by cringe-worthy product placement. The obvious, irritating kind where you’re being consistently bombarded with different brands coming at you from all different directions.

Traditionally, product placement has been seen as an annoying aspect of film and television for the consumer. However, its effectiveness can’t be denied. The power of association has become incredibly influential over time. For example, you can’t think of James Bond without also thinking of brands like BMW and Aston Martin. The same goes with Top Gun, the image of Tom Cruise wearing Ray Ban aviators is a prime example of influence.

That said, iconic movies such as Back To The Future where you’re flooded with images of brands like Pepsi, Nike and DeLorean may have been effective back in the day. However, in 2017 an overwhelming and seemingly thoughtless amount of product placement is too obvious for today’s consumer.

This is where the idea of product integration comes in. Viewers today are too aware of products and brands in movies and TV shows. Integrating products in a way that seems natural, organic and almost subliminal is a way to place your brand in the mind of the consumer without seeming like you’re trying too hard. Integrating products into the storyline or placing them sparingly and thoughtfully will inspire brand recall without the negative connotations having to do with product placement. For example, Sex and The City is one of the most notorious shows for product placement. Yet in the Sex and The City movie, it felt branded while maintaining a classy and thoughtful feel. A prominent brand was Manolo Blahnik, which was most integrated into the plot. The viewer likely wouldn’t think about the fact that Manolo Blahnik paid to be a key part of the story, but instead is enjoying the tale being told by style icon Carrie Bradshaw.

Product integration is more important today than ever. With more people getting rid of cable and using streaming services, traditional broadcast space is losing its relevance. Brands are looking for new ways to make sure they’re reaching their target. Following viewer habits and trends will be key for brands in deciding the strategies they use going forward.

Ultimately, the years to come will be extremely exciting to see how advertising strategies are altered to fit into a changing media landscape. Our industry is ever evolving and the textbook idea of product placement is becoming ineffective. Integrating brands and products into the plot resonates better with consumers because it reflects their everyday life. Brands are everywhere so it only makes sense that they play a part in our favourite characters’ lives as well.

Even though many of us can’t afford those royal blue Manolos, Carrie’s style placed the brand top of mind and made us feel like we needed them. Now if you’ll excuse me, my credit card is burning a hole in my pocket.


Regan Bartlett-Green is currently in the home stretch of the Advertising and Marketing Communications program at Humber College. She looks forward to starting her internship and making a name for herself in the advertising world. In her spare time, Regan enjoys watching and creating beauty videos on YouTube. She also loves drinking excessive amounts of coffee and occasionally you’ll even find her making some at her part-time job. Connect with Regan on Twitter and LinkedIn 


Product Placement in Movies: Is it ‘Appealing’ or ‘Annoying’ on the Big Screen?

November 27, 2015

For a few decades now, product placement has been used as a marketing tool in several mediums of entertainment – mainly movies and TV shows – as an arguably effective way to persuade target consumers to purchase your product over the competitors’ products. One of the biggest product-placement clichés is the side shot of an attractive man or woman slowly consuming (and savouring) a bottle of Coca-Cola. That same shot was most noticeable in this most recent summer’s biggest Hollywood blockbuster, Jurassic World.


For those of you who saw Jurassic World, you could easily notice the repetition of camera shots used solely for product placement, particularly the ones promoting corporate behemoths Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz. Now, when it comes to product placement, the big question for marketers everywhere is: Will placing my product in this movie/show persuade my target consumers, or will they just see it as a ‘nuisance’? The concern that product placement might be the cause of all the negative perceptions of one’s product is a marketers’ worst nightmare. The last thing you want to do for your company is let a handful of movie scenes or TV episodes be the main cause of decline in sales because you simply ‘annoyed’ your target market.

Throughout several scenes in the movie, the lead actor Chris Pratt drives around a jungle in the middle of South America in a luxurious, white-coloured SUV – that sort of defies logic. However, in this case, Pratt driving a shiny, white Mercedes-Benz in a dirty and unsuitable setting catches the consumers’ attention (due to its quirkiness) and ultimately cements the image of that shiny, white Benz into their heads. However, one can argue that these ‘Benz-filled’ cut scenes channels the audience’s attention from the climax/plot of the movie, and instead, builds emphasis and importance on the endorsed product on the screen.

More recently, the same kind of product placement was used for Aston Martin’s new coupe (the Aston Martin DB10) in the newest James Bond movie, Spectre. The new coupe model was created exclusively for Spectre, and the DB10 got quite the exposure in a 15-minute car chase scene in which James Bond participates in the streets of Rome.


This is another prime example of branded content in movies where the main character is practically ‘endorsing’ products by making them a primary use in key scenes in the movie. There are several camera shots during the Rome car chase scene that zoom right into the Aston Martin logo in the front and back of the car, which (similar to the Mercedes-Benz example in Jurassic Park) can easily distract the audience from paying attention to the actual car chase for brief (but key) moments here and there. However, Spectre director Sam Martin gets more credit for making the branded content/product placement a little less obvious and pushy than Colin Trevorrow did when directing Jurassic World.

When you’re trying to incorporate endorsed products with the movie’s script, there has to be a fine line between ‘using’ the product and ‘starring’ the product. One might suggest that ‘starring’ the product (i.e. overly endorsing or using the product so that it feels like the movie’s “main character”) is what makes branded content ‘annoying’ to some moviegoers out there. However, in most cases, product placement (and branded content) in mass media is the ultimate drive towards gains in publicity and sales for any brand – but only when used with caution. Sometimes, less is more.

What are your thoughts on Product Placement in Movies? Do you think it is more #appealing or #annoying to big screen moviegoers? Share your opinions on our Comments thread below!

Anthony Pazzano is currently an Advertising and Marketing Communications student at Humber College. He is looking forward to expand his knowledge and experience in the Advertising/Marketing industry, and aspires to work client-side, agency-side, or for a PR firm. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Connect with him on LinkedIn