Friday, August 7, 2009

Product Placement

I love shopping, I love gadgets (especially for the kitchen), and I pursue buying them much like many people look for the right spouse. I do research then go to stores and touch or even use the product if at all possible, all in the quest for the perfect match to my taste and style. So, a few years ago, when I needed a new coffee maker I went through the whole rigmarole. Read professional and consumer reviews, researched what makes a coffee maker good at, well, brewing coffee, and even convinced myself that I could get a good cup without spending a fortune and that it would be best to have a separate burr grinder instead of a built-in one. The winner was the Cuisinart Brew Central and I have been in love with it from day one. It just makes a darn good cup of coffee, didn't break my bank, and looks slick to boot.

Then I noticed that it may be the most placed product in Hollywood. I've spotted it in dozens of TV shows and movies, the ones that spring to mind right now are Josh Lyman's apartment in The West Wing, the break room on Bones, and it is CONSTANTLY on screen in Two and a Half Men. This machine has more screen time than the hardest-working actors in Hollywood!

It seems that my noticing this would be an example of product placement doing it's job, but I never actually noticed that coffee maker before I owned it. Not once. I didn't recognize it when I saw it in the store or think, "Gee, I should get the coffee maker I saw on TV, it looks nice." No, I notice it purely because I already own it.

As I watched Bradley Whitford empty his coffee filter for the 10th time or so this morning I got to wondering: Who buys stuff because they saw it on a show? I know companies have all sorts of ways of measuring their ROI on various advertising campaigns but I'm not sure how they could track the success of placements. It would be fascinating to see some numbers on this.

As far as I can tell, the only product placement that really works is drinks. I was addicted for years to Coca-cola (I drink about one every month or two now) and when I see someone on TV drinking one it gives me a craving. That's just me, though, and I know I'm generally a more educated consumer than most people and couldn't possibly care less about celebrity or trends. So, are there people out there who buy products because they saw them on TV or in a movie? I'm quite curious!

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