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Product Placement & Consumer Brand Salience: Measuring the Impact

1. Introduction

This paper aims to measure and analyze the impact of product placement on brand
salience that is, consumer level of awareness about a particular brand. The study is
experiential research, in which the impact of product placement on customers’ brand
salience is measured among media and media genres. Moreover, cross-cultural
investigations also tell that customers’ response differs towards brand placement
among Singaporean and U.S. respondents, whereby Singaporean respondents accept
very little on ethical grounds as compared to U.S. respondents.

2. Brand Placement

Product placement can be defined as the use of a brand name, a product, or the name
of a firm in a television program or in a movie for promotional purpose (d’Astous &
Chatier, 2000). There are three kinds of product placement strategies. First is implicit
product placement, in which product is placed within a television program in such a
way that formal expression can be avoided. Thus, the brand itself is passive and
contextual. The second strategy is integrated explicit product placement, in which
product is placed within a television program in such a way that attributes and
benefits are clearly expressed and emphasized during the program. Thus, the brand’s
role changes to active role. The third strategy is non-integrated explicit product
placement, in which the name of sponsor appears at the beginning and end of the

Product placement can be categorized in terms of relevance and modality. Firstly,

screen placement is the first category, in which the brand is visually included in a
movie scene or TV show. Script placement is another, in which the brand name is
verbally mentioned in a dialogue. And lastly, plot placement combines virtual
display of brand with verbal dialogue as to make a part of the plot or main theme in
the storyline.

3. Benefits of Product Placement

Product placement helps to get the financial support from the sponsors in the venue
of promoting their product. It is also cost effective for both moviemakers and
sponsors, as moviemakers can increase their sales (Galician, 2004; Russell, 2002;
Lehu, 2007), while sponsors can create awareness of their brand to the audience
(Wasko et al., 1993). It also provides an unlimited coverage as compared to other
media like TV, radio, etc.

4. Criticism of Product Placement

Product placement is sometimes considered to be costly for the moviemakers, who

bear heavy production and marketing costs (Evangelista, 2003). Cost-benefit ratio is
used to decide whether and when or where the brand is placed (DeLorme and Reid,
1999). It adds another responsibility for the content developers and writers to
integrate product in scenes. When the car producing company provides cars without
cost in exchange for placement within media content, it is possible that the cost can
be miniminzed. But intentional inclusion is always risky and costly.

5. Linking Product Placement with Memory, Recognition and Recall

When a product is included in the movie, a viewer gets the chance to see it again and
again. They get more aware of brand and less aware of competitor’s brand (Alba &
Chattopadhyay, 1986). It changes the mind set of a viewer (Moran, 1990). Thus,
awareness leads to memory based course of action from recall to recognition
(Rossiter & Percy, 1983). Cues in a scene may facilitate recall of the brand by
reconstructing the brand characteristics in the memory, or recognition by
differentiating the earlier acquired stimuli from a set of possibly distracting and
extraneous stimuli. Recall and recognition collectively results in brand salience.

6. Experimental Methodology

Experiment design is useful to explore memory and brand evaluation by exposing

product medium during a movie (Law & Braun, 2004). In the research paper, the
experiment took place in one hour, with 32 participants of undergraduate, graduate
and master level qualification. Participants were informed that the experiment aimed

to evaluate a popular cartoon movie related to marketing and branding (logorama).

Nokia N95 mobile is brand included in the experiment by placing on the table
attached with the TV. Through questionnaire, data on awareness and recall is
collected during the lunch and movie is rated in the end to evaluate overall
assessment of the show, perceptions for the roles and characters in the movie, and
the rate and duration of watching the movie.

7. Conclusions

The results showed that N95 mobile was at the top of participants’ mind. Moreover,
brand familarity and brand recognition is improved in post-exposure. Thus, the sutyd
concluded that product placement improves brand salience, if proper practices are
employed. So the study recommends that more importantly, further studies should be
conducted to determine procedures and practices that can enhance brand salience,
and real life experiments can be conducted to enhance the significance and practical
implications of the findings.


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