Industry Briefing Paper and Reflective Statement
Element 1: Industry Briefing Paper
As per the definition of American Federal Trade Commission, product placement is defined as a form of paid promotion of branded products through films, television program and other forms of entertainment media in exchange of certain consideration or fee by the advertisers (Kramoliš and Kopečková, 2013). In the past few decades, the fundamentality of the business world has changed, and increased focus has been laid on the intangible values of the product along with the tangible values. Product placement can be regarded as a form of relationship marketing wherein; the marketers lay emphasis on influencing customer behaviour by stimulating a product or recommending it to the public for increasing sales.
As the society and outlook of the people are changing, the traditional means of marketing do not suffice the needs of influencing the customer’s purchasing intention and behaviour. Therefore, the advertisers have resorted to the product placement strategy as it provides more exposure to the commodity; recall value, source association and targeting. The report would focus on the product placement strategy and the contributions it can make for the growth of Fresh Fruit Soda. Along with that, an academic theory relating to product strategy would be analyzed, and key issues would be identified that could affect the advertisement strategy of the company. Case examples would be used to substantiate the issues, and lastly, a set of recommendations would be provided for further improvement.
2.0 Analysis of academic theory
2.1 The Balancing Theory
Tocknell (2017), states that the balancing theory has been developed amidst the thought that the branded products alone might not influence the purchasing behaviour of the customers; the ways protagonists interact with the product and use them in their movies, novels, and others play a vital role. As per the theory, an individual shares a relationship with three elements, which is perceived as connected, making a triad. The three elements of the triad are – product, actors and consumers influencing each other to maintain balance. For instance, if a negative perception regarding a brand is persisting, it would misbalance the triad until the individuals or consumers change their perception regarding the product restoring the balance again. The balance is completely restored when the perception of the customers and actors regarding the brand are in alignment wit each other.
Figure 1: The balancing theory
(Source: Tocknell, 2017)
The figure above demonstrates the act of maintaining balance for creating a base for celebrity endorsements. The advertisers restore to product placement strategy with the hope of transferring the popularity of the actor into the product for influencing the purchasing attitude of the consumers. On reading novels or watching televisions, plays and movies, the consumer tends to connect with the fictional character and start perceiving them as real making them more relatable. Therefore, in such scenarios, a parasocial relationship exists, wherein the audiences are emotionally attached to the protagonist’s character, but the other person is oblivious.
As per Berg (2016), the use of balancing theory measuring the extent of the impact that product placement has on the brand equity of the product. The theory helps in understanding if the viewers are being able to connect with the actor and the product used by him/her in the television serial or movie. Therefore, Fresh Fruit Soda can try using this strategic theory for promoting their drinks. Seeing the actor using the product casually in a scene in the book or movie influences the customers hence, raising their inquisitions level. Thus, such instances casts an influence on the purchasing intention and behaviour of the people leading to higher sales and successful promotional strategy. The use of the presence by famous stars or writers in their novels helps in increasing the awareness regarding the product.
2.2 Three dimensional frameworks of product placement
Earlier, the product placement strategy was restricted to measuring the recall value of the brand. To complement this, several studies were conducted, which stated that the product placement strategy helped the viewers to recognize the product being featured in films or play. However, the studies dealt with only one form of product placement, which was the visual appearance of the product on screen. However, Russell (2019) argues that the product placement strategies can be categorized into three types based on relevance and modality.
The first categorization is known as a visual form in which the product is used in the movie scene by either placing it in the background of a show or by means of outdoor advertisement in the film — for instance, placing the product in the kitchen while a scene is being shot in with the backdrop. Such a form is also known as screen placement wherein, the advertisement to be made depends on camera shot and style and number of appearances being made.
The second dimension of the product placement strategy is auditory or verbal. Use of such form involves, mixing the name of the product in the script of the television serial or movie plot wherein the product is mentioned in the dialogues but is not supported by any visual representations (Pwc.com, 2019). Such means is said to have a greater impact that just a visual representation as the viewers are able to process the information even without looking at the product.
Figure 2: Three-dimensional construct of product placement
(Source: Russell, 2019)
The last categorization of the product placement strategy based on modality and relevance is the plot/usage placement strategy. In such promotional techniques, one of the protagonists interacts using the product. This is a combination of both visual and auditory means wherein a degree of connection is established between the plot and the product. This strategy has the maximum impact on the viewers as they connect more with the product when they see the actor using it. Such a strategy is more relatable in nature and leaves lasting impact leading to higher brand awareness and equity. For instance, the use of Aston Martin car in James Bond movies was a form of plot product placement strategy. The actor was seen riding the car as a daily means of transport, and this struck a chord with the audience. Such form of advertisement even connects the fans and admirers of the star leading to an increase in brand awareness and product awareness. Such strategies have helped companies to increase their sales and profit margins and even proved to be less expensive as compared to television adverts.
3.0 Key issues relating to product placement
As per Yu (2006), product placement is defined as a method of advertising products on movies or television shows without making the customers feel that the product is being promoted. At times, the subtlety of the product placement is often perceived to be a subconscious or sublime effort, as viewers just do not get the possibility that a product can be advertised through a scene also. However, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship argue with the fact that a thin line of difference exists between persuasion and manipulation. As per the views of Lee (2016), persuasion is defined as a blunt appeal made to the customer wherein the consumer is aware of the evidence and logical reasoning behind the promotion of the product or service. In such circumstances of persuasion, the customer has the choice to accept or reject the argument proposed by the advertiser based on fair assessment and judgement.
On the other hand, manipulation is the situation where the other person is unknown to the fact that that he/she is being influenced thus, violating his/her freedom of choice. Hence, as per common belief, product placement is considered more of manipulation than persuasion, which boils down it to being unethical (Chan, 2012). The belief is strengthened because the actor or the actress does not explicitly endorse the product but is shown subtly using it; thus, establishing a positive relationship among them. Hence, this is regarded as a classic conditioning of the consumer’s mind to buy the product.
Hence, the first key issue that Fresh Fruit Soda can face is the criticism of manipulating the customers rather than persuading them to buy the product. For instance, Krispy Kreme one of the famous doughnut companies around the globe was accused of manipulating the customers by using product placement strategy. The management of the doughnut company, partnered with the makers and production houses the movie, Power Rangers to promote their product. The movie makers used two aspects of the threedimensional framework of product placement – plot product placement and visual product placement. One of the scenes of the move involved Krispy Kreme store location for shoot purpose and boxes of the company were kept for visual representation in many scenes (Fortress of Solitude, 2017). Therefore, this subtle form of promotion was regarded as manipulation. Hence, the management of Fresh Fruit Soda has to be careful so that they do not face similar criticisms while using such means of promotional, as the company took into consideration is new.
However, the management of Fresh Fruit Soda can defy such criticisms and claims as the entire theory is based on the speculation that the consumers are unaware of the fact that a product is being advertised in a movie or television serial. However, this is untrue as information regarding promotional stints in the movies and television serials are publicized from before. The social media has become so influential that the consumers get to know of the advertisements to be done in the movies from beforehand. Moreover, the production companies credit the brands being promoted in their films so that consumers are not misguided and are aware of the paid promotion being done.
Another issue that persists with product placement strategy is that is not a substantial marketing tool to boost the sales of the company (Özbay, 2018). When a product is viewed on screen, the time span attributed to it is small leading to lack of exposure. Until and unless the camera zooms into the product or the main character is shown using it twothree times, the time exposure is considered to be small and can miss the attention of the customers (Pwc.com, 2019). Stemming from this, another problem that can arise and should be considered by the management of Fresh Fruit Soda is limited appeal. For instance, Lady Gaga’s music video, which got 62 million, views on Facebook, included product placements companies like Virgin Mobile and Magical Whip (Plambeck, 2014). However, the song was in the English language, which is not a prevalent language in most part of the world. Hence, the audience of the video is limited to English speaking countries or to people who understand English, therefore, limiting the audience. Hence, the promotional strategy was also limited to that number of the audience making leading to the limited appeal. Moreover, the movies do not inform the target market of the product regarding the advertisement made. Hence, people are uninformed until the time they see the movie.
Lastly, another issue persistent with the product placement strategy is the lack of control on the part of the advertisers. It may happen that the expectations of the manufacturer and advertiser from the product placement strategy may not materialize due to certain external factors like post-production delay in the movie or delay in release. Therefore, such scenarios may lead to misallocation of resources, as it might not prove to be worthwhile for the company.
4.0 Conclusion and recommendation
The report has been presented in the form of an industry briefing paper with the objective of producing it to the CEO of Fresh Fruit Soda organization. As the company is relatively new in the industry and aims to notch up the list of top five companies in the soda and fizzy drink industry, they have to use several marketing tactics. Hence, the report briefs about the product placement strategy of marketing technique. Using two academic theories – balancing model and three-dimensional construct product placement strategies, the effectiveness of the advertisement tool has been evaluated. Taking a queue from that, issues involved in using product placement strategy as advertising issues have been discussed by citing examples of some leading companies. A set of recommendations is also provided to overcome the issues.
Recommendations for Fresh Fruit Soda for using the product placement strategy for their products are:
Berg, J.M., 2016. Balancing on the creative highwire: Forecasting the success of novel ideas in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 61(3), pp.433-468.
Chan, F.F.Y., 2012. Product placement and its effectiveness: A systematic review and propositions for future research. The Marketing Review, 12(1), pp.39-60.
Fortress of Solitude. (2017). 15 Unforgettable Examples Of Product Placement In Movies. [online] Available at: https://www.fortressofsolitude.co.za/product-placement-movies/
Hackley, A.R. and Hackley, C., 2013. Television product placement strategy in Thailand and the UK. Asian Journal of Business Research, 3(1).
Kramoliš, J. and Kopečková, M., 2013. Product Placement: A smart marketing tool shifting a company to the next competitive level. Journal of Competitiveness.
Lee, J., Kim, S. and Ham, C.D., 2016. A double-edged sword? Predicting consumers’ attitudes toward and sharing intention of native advertising on social media. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(12), pp.1425-1441.
Özbay, B., 2018. The practice of product placement.
Plambeck, J. (2014). Product Placement Grows in Music Videos. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/business/media/06adco.html [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].
Pwc.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.pwc.com/it/it/publications/assets/docs/product-placement-movie.pdf [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].
Russell, C. (2019). Toward a Framework of Product Placement: Theoretical Propositions. ACR North American Advances, [online] NA-25, p. Available at: http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/8178/volumes/v25/NA-25 [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].
Tocknell, K., 2017. The Effect Product Placement in Television Series has on Millennial’s Brand Perception and Buying Behavior (Doctoral dissertation, The IIE).
Yu, C.H., (2006) Ethical Issues of Product Placement and Manipulation Chong Ho Yu, Ph. D.
Element 2: Reflective Statement
The industry briefing paper has been created after conducting detailed research. I assumed the role of a researcher as I wanted to ensure that my industry briefing paper is of industry level and capable of being sent to any company for review purpose. Hence, I searched for several industry blogs, news articles, journals and internet websites to gather information that is relevant to my topic. The first thing that I did was to choose a topic relevant to the present business and marketing scenario so that my report is insightful and informative for the readers. Post choosing the topic, I researched about it in details by accessing various library databases and surfing the internet.
The information provided by me in the report is valid and credible because of the sources used. I was careful about the resources and articles that I used for referencing purpose in the industry briefing paper, as I knew it would form a base for my research. Majority of the journal articles referred by me were peer-reviewed making it authentic and reliable. Moreover, internet websites also used are articles published by famous newspapers or information published on the websites of the company. The information gathering process was extremely tiresome and taxing as it involved too much time and effort. Filtering the resources used for authenticity purpose is something that I learnt during the course of my research, and this would help me in future as well. Ending the statement, I would like to assure my readers that all the information published in the industry briefing report is authentic and reliable.
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