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I t is official : product placement is the new TV advertising. An article in a recent issue of The Economist pointed out that in the hit TV show Lost, some of the characters spend an extraordinarily long amount of time trying to break in to a Zero Halliburton case. In the end, they can't open it until they find the key. That's a terrific brand message.
To confirm the theory that placing branding inside TV shows and films is the only way to defeat ad-skipping technology, L'Oréal has just signed a major deal with the Weinstein brothers, founders of the film company Miramax. They're about to launch a new film studio, and L'Oréal's brands will get privileged placement in its films. L'Oréal will provide all the beauty products used on set and its brands will feature prominently in the movies themselves.
It's no secret that we're heading back to the days when drama series were sponsored by detergent brands - hence the expression « soap opera ». But in the 21st century, a more subtle approach is required. In one scene from the recent film Mr&Mrs Smith, Angelina Jolie takes a lingering look at her Tissot watch. On a cinema screen, the brand is about six feet wide - and it's up there for a long time. I thought we'd progressed beyond the days when James Bond was forced to crash his car into trucks carrying Coca-Cola. Just because product placement is a different medium, the rules of advertising still apply : consumers are sophisticated, and brands need to treat them that way.