Embedded Marketing: Relevance in Today’s Markets

Ask any viewer today, and you’ll get quick answers to which fashion magazine was Priyanka Chopra working for in Dostana? Which Fashion apparel had signed up Dhoom 2? Which motorcycle did Rishi Kapoor ride in Bobby? Which malted drink does Hrithik have in Koi mil gaya?

Super hit movies like Dilwale Dulhania le jayege, Yaadein, Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani, Fashion, Dostana,Krissh, Rang de Basanti, Dhoom 2, Don , Lage Raho Munnabhai  and many more have all had brand cameos and appearances, some brands were even part of the movie scripts.  Through Special campaigns by companies like limited edition – Rang De Basanti Coca-cola bottle, “Go Dhoom” campaign, “Spirit of Baabul with Kotak Life insurance” etc companies are making embedded marketing an integral part of their marketing strategies.

Today advertisers use movies, prime time tv shows, music videos, news programs, story books, novels, video games etc  to promote their products and respective brands. Embedded marketing or product placement practices have been used since a long time. However, the past decade saw an increase in embedded marketing techniques due to reality TV shows like Indian Idol, Big Boss etc, internet TV and mobile TV. Emergence of sports as a substitute to movies and TV shows has also created a huge market for advertisements. Do you think we would be able to forget any of the ‘DLF maximums’ or ‘Karbonn kamal catches’ anytime soon?

Increase in technologies like digital video recorders (DVR), satellite television which allow viewers to skip advertisements has led to increase and growth of embedded marketing. Unlike advertising which is direct and persuasive, product placement subtly informs the audience and viewers about the product and service without the use of ads. Placing the products in tv shows where the favourite characters use them increases the brand’s visibility.

According to research that was presented at IIM-Ahmedabad’s conference – a subtle product placement in Bollywood films and television soaps will provide the best returns on investment for advertisers in India. The statistics from the research paper concluded that about 70% percent of consumers think that product placement is a good way of being informed about products and services. Those in the age group of 16-24 and those over 60 years of age were more positive about the information provided by product placements compared to others. For companies, embedded marketing provides cleaner and clutter free form of advertising.
But there is a downside to it as well. Imagine a movie or a TV show where a brand is being endorsed every 5 minutes, a viewer will automatically filter it out. As experts call it – they will develop ‘ad blindness’ and whole purpose of embedded marketing will be lost. Another issue is subtlety. Marketers need to make sure that while embedding a product within another media form, it should seamlessly gel with the story. A forced advertisement will make a viewer resent it rather than appreciating the product.
Recently, U.K. became the first market in the world to regulate the embedded marketing on television. Viewers will be informed that they are seeing an advertisement during a show through letter ‘P’ being prompted on television. Regulation also states that the product should have relevance to the story line.
As more and more options are being given to viewers these days like recording TV shows on set up boxes where they can fast forward advertisement or watching their favourite TV show on youtube, that day is not far when 30 second advertisement slot on a TV show will have practically no relevance. However with changing times, Marketers will have to keep innovating and create new spaces for themselves in order to reach their target audience.

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