Don’t Fast-Forward Through Your TV Budgets 8th December, 2016

Speaking as someone who has transitioned from the sale of television advertising into the sale of sponsorships I believe that traditional television advertising is utterly overrated. I have spent years booking ad campaigns for well-known global brands who are desperately focused on ensuring that their thirty second ad is run at the precise time they booked it into. Even though that is virtually impossible to guarantee, given the ever-changing nature of live television, brands never fail to be shocked that an ad booked in at one time may move.


When I sit down to watch a television programme one thing I’m not paying attention to are the ads. According to data from Alphonso I’m not alone, with a little under half the population skipping ads. What does catch my eye however are the brands who are clever enough to integrate within a programme. Taking the time to asses an opportunity to integrate a product or brand into a television show is proven to be more successful when done correctly. Viewers appreciate brands who choose to support their favourite shows and will remember these brands each time they watch.


Many brands become put off by big scary price tags associated with sponsoring a television programme, however when you consider the engagement levels with integrated brands over the ones who are simply ignored or fast forwarded through during ad breaks, there really is no argument. I can’t tell you who’s ad ran 4th in break 3, but I can tell you the brand that took the time to relate to their audience by integrating within the programme. Brands who are still nit picking over which ad break their 15 second TVC falls into, must realise it’s time to wake up and understand the reason they want it to run first, in the back of their minds they surely realise no one is watching it anyway.


The limits with television sponsorship really do not exist. A successful television sponsorship becomes synonymous with your favourite show. They can also be used to drive a response from the viewers. Creating brand engagement is easy when you can influence the content of a programme as a sponsor. Sponsors provide a programme with the ability to be bigger, whether it be through sponsored segments outside of regular programme budgets, provision of prizes or even just product placement. This reflects positively on the sponsor, suddenly the prize provided to contestants of a reality show becomes something viewers at home want for themselves. This not only makes the brand desirable in viewer’s eyes but also memorable.


Brands who take the time to invest in a sponsorship at the end of the day see their efforts reflected in sales. Even though it may be a risk at the outset it is proven that sponsorships work and are effective when executed properly. Avoid being skipped, sponsor a programme, and secure your engagement among viewers.

‘I Will Not Bow to Any Sponsor’ – Assessing the Evolution of Product Placement 12th May, 2014

The children’s movie Finding Nemo was a box office hit. It would seem however, that it wasn’t just Disney that reaped the rewards from the film’s success.  Since the film’s release in 2003, sales for clownfish (Nemo) and Pacific regal blue tangs (Dory) have rocketed. It’s safe to say that Disney didn’t have a deal with any pet shops and this increase in fish sales wasn’t ever an objective for the film. Nevertheless, the product (fish) placed in the film had an effect on the audience, who were inspired to then go away and buy their very own Nemo and Dory.

Product placement can be an effective additional revenue stream, providing a platform for brands to showcase their products, as well as providing producers with extra capital to use towards their shows. However, for this type of marketing to be effective, for both brand and televised/cinematic production, there are some key points that need to be followed, which I will explore through examples;

  • Brands suiting the audience; if products have no relevance to the programme’s demographic,  the product placement consequently will not deliver good return.
  • Products harmonising with the production; the contribution needs to be seamless so that it is not ‘chunky’ and awkward, but well enough placed so that the product sticks in people’s minds.
  • Interacting with the audience; sales are likely to rise if viewers actually feel involved with the show and are given accessibility to the products.

Brands suiting the audience
Still a relatively new phenomenon to the world of TV, product placement has been gracing our screens in varying degrees. One example that has been criticised, is the rather abrasive approach taken by Coca Cola through their partnership with American Idol. The show is also sponsored by Ford and mobile giant AT&T, but it is Coca Cola that takes centre stage. From huge vending machines to large red branded cups on the judges’ table – their logo is unavoidable. People have argued that this relentless plug not only has no relevance to the show itself, but it is irresponsible in terms of audience demographic; consequently being inconsistent with Coca Cola’s pledge to not directly advertise unhealthy beverages to children .

Products harmonising with the Production
As well as TV shows and films, music videos are a good medium to hit audiences. Adobe suggests that video content now makes up for more than three quarters of viral media posts. Music videos have a unique way of emotionally engaging with audiences, and therefore when brands take advantage of this, their grab is much stronger. Volvo teamed up with Swedish House Mafia for their rerelease of ‘Leave the World Behind‘ with Swedish singer Lune. Not only was this collaboration a charming homage to some of Sweden’s most successful exports, but the product placement of Volvo really captures the essence of the three DJ’s escaping the city and ‘leaving the world behind’.

Interacting with the audience
Online retailer SSENSE have also joined forces with System magazine to produce a series of e-commerce music videos which give the viewers access to buy the clothing worn by artists. SSENSE & System kicked off the series with Sky Ferreira’s ‘I Blame Myself‘ with SSENSE taking full advantage of the product placement by providing a direct link so viewers can purchase all clothing worn in the video at the click of a button.

In the UK, product placement has only been legal for the last three years. Although the UK is still in its infancy, there have been a selection of campaigns that have not only professionally fitted into the programmes, but have also engaged with audiences. collaborated with Big Brother last year, which saw the brand design a click-to-buy service which allowed the public to buy items from the Big Brother house as they appeared. Any fan of Big Brother loves the quirky house and furniture and therefore this interactive system gave people the opportunity to feel further involved in the show. Similarly to SSENSE’s music videos, the ease of access to products gives the audience more incentive to consume.

Product placement is an effective marketing tool that allows brands to access audiences in a way that advertising can’t. Product placement shouldn’t be deemed as just a pay package for the production teams either. Although it is subliminal advertising in their shows, the use of real life branded products can actually add to a programme and make the experience more realistic.  It is clear, however, that product placement has a long way to go, but has a huge amount of potential.  The recent surge in second and even third screening has allowed brands an additional layer of interaction with audiences – granting them the opportunity to engage with the viewer on a more personal level.