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What is Brand Placement (Product Placement)?

“What is brand placement?” is one of the questions we’re most frequently asked at b.i.r. Agency. Full disclosure: This essay also includes brand placement 🙂 

At its core, brand placement is the existence of a brand in a content without stealing the spotlight from the main message and hurting its own image. The operative word here is “content.” We all know content mostly means work created for SEO in the digital world, yet it means much more than that. Any kind of production that reflects the characteristics of the person that created it is indeed a work of art. Content is a word that captures it all; a book, a blog post, TV series, movies, activities, sporting events, TV programs, documentaries, digital videos, pictures, SEO texts, digital games… In the world of agencies, anything that has an ad on, is sponsored or has turned into a medium can be called a content. Suppose we are watching a news programme and there is a content that is newsworthy. The news is talking about a new invention by a brand. That doesn’t spoil the content, and places the brand within the content in a positive manner. That is brand placement. If we were to talk about the product and the brand in a promotional way that would have indeed been a promotion. We would have stepped outside the boundaries of the main message of the content. That is an ad. We could also have taken a break from the program and carved out a new space for an ad. That is traditional advertising. 

The main purpose of brand placement is to prioritize the content and enrich it. The brand is positioned so that it serves the main message or mission of the content. Thus both the quality of the content improves and people get to watch a better quality content. This gives the brand an opportunity to establish the right method of communication, a people-oriented one with the audience. The protagonist wears a classy suit to impress his girlfriend, a beautiful dancer puts on makeup before her show on a TV series or someone puts on their sunglasses while sitting on the beach… All of these can be brand placement. The most important part is to make sure that it first and foremost serves the quality of the content and doesn’t outweigh the entire content.

There is a lot of research that shows that the ad spaces which brands purchase by spending immense budgets on doesn’t mean much for the customers. Traditional advertising, which turns into a race to buy the more creative, more famous and simply more every day is driving people away from itself. Many brands have a hard time parting its way with traditional advertising because they think they owe it all their success. There are two main reasons for this: the established order has an efficient dataset, and there aren’t many qualified agencies that know how to execute brand placement. Thanks to the dataset, brands think they can forecast the outcomes of purchasing traditional advertising. However, it’s becoming harder and harder to correctly predict those outcomes because people are running away from ads. On the other hand, executing the right brand placement in a content earns more and more. Many brands that reap the benefits of brand placement remain discreet about it, because they don’t want the other brands to discover how much it helped them. That is quite natural for brands that rose to global fame in a short time in a linear economy. The brands that are fast climbing the ladder to global success by using brand placement are some of the world’s most powerful ones such as Apple and Starbucks. These brands have invested so little in traditional advertising but are among the most renowned brands around the world today. It is now possible to become a global brand simply by creating SEO content, working with influencers and executing brand placement in contents. We are at a point where a movie with a budget of 100 million dollars can attract 150 million dollars worth of brand placement.

That there aren’t many agencies who can execute professional brand placement in the right and effective way causes brands to misuse this new way of communication. If you want to grow your brand quickly and become a globally recognized figure, the most effective way is brand placement. This field presents a great opportunity to many brands. The one problem they have is finding professionals who understand pricing, reporting, targeting and creative matters. Brands now have two paths, and they should see those paths as merging too: They will either become the content themselves or be a part of it. But if they can be both at the same time, that means they have developed the right brand placement strategy and immensely contributed to their brand value.

As b.i.r. Agency, we firmly believe that almost all of the traditional media instruments will be replaced by this new communication carried out by brand placement techniques. If we look at the top 10 brands in the world, we can see that this is not an outrageous statement. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and so on… You will hardly run into advertisements for any of those. But you will run into these brands in movies, TV shows, books and digital contents. You might say “well, these are all tech brands.” Yes, they indeed are brands that create the latest technology and the latest method of communication. By the way Disney, a content production brand is placed 25th in the world, and Starbucks, a mere coffee store, is at 31st place. If you have the right perspective, you will understand how the brands that capture the zeitgeist, the essence of the age we live in, rise high on the most valuable brands of the world lists. And once again, all these brands that we’ve mentioned have almost zero ad spots. 

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