What Is Product Placement? Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 30, 2022 | Published April 20, 2021

Updated March 30, 2022

Published April 20, 2021

Product placement is a form of advertising that companies often use to promote their products naturally. Businesses can use product placement to improve sales, increase brand popularity and attract customers. Learning what product placement is can help you better understand how you can use this form of advertising to promote a brand or product. In this article, we discuss what product placement is, explain why it's important and how it differs from traditional advertisements and provide some examples of different types of product placement.

What is product placement?

Product placement is an advertising technique that promotes specific brands and products to consumers more naturally than traditional advertising, often through film and television or in a retail setting. The goal of product placement is to subtly advertise products in a nontraditional setting where advertisements do not generally occur, such as showing a character in a movie driving a specific type of car. Businesses sometimes refer to product placement as embedded marketing because it involves embedding images of products in various forms of entertainment or physical stores.

Related: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful

Why is product placement important?

Product placement is important because it can help increase consumer awareness of a brand. Here are several other reasons why product placement is essential for businesses:

Generates emotional attachment for an audience

Product placement can generate an emotional attachment for audiences who may associate a product with something important in their lives. For example, if a company promotes its product in a popular television series, consumers may associate their strong feelings for the TV show with the product or brand promoted in the show.

Influences customers' opinions

Depending on how the brand is depicted, product placement can help influence a customer's opinion of a company. For instance, if a movie character who is well-liked uses an advertised product, customers may develop a positive opinion of that brand.

Related: What Is Brand Identity and How To Build Your Brand

Costs less than other forms of advertising

Product placement is a less expensive form of marketing that can be just as beneficial for company exposure as other popular marketing techniques. It is often less expensive than television commercials or purchasing an ad in a newspaper.

Reaches audiences

A wide range of popular media use product placement, including movies, video games, artwork and songs. People from all backgrounds and demographics consume this content and can gain exposure to certain brands while searching for entertainment or information.

Focuses on content

When consumers watch a television show or play a video game that contains product placement, they focus solely on the content instead of being distracted by traditional advertisements that they may mute or fast forward through.

Improves sales

Companies that use product placement may experience improved sales. This is possible because viewers who recognize a product or brand while watching a TV show or reading a magazine may feel inclined to buy that product.

Boosts brand recognition

Brand recognition involves customers remembering your brand by recognizing a slogan or logo. Product placement boosts brand recognition for companies when consumers repeatedly see this form of advertisement, which can attract customers and help a company grow.

Related: Brand Awareness: Definition and 6 Ways To Improve

Offers international exposure

Product placement can offer international exposure for companies that otherwise might not be able to reach certain parts of the world. With streaming capabilities and online entertainment, movies and television shows reach a wide variety of audiences across the world, which can broaden your customer base.

Allows brands to choose their target audiences

Brands can choose to advertise in certain media outlets that cater to their target audience. For example, if a children's clothing line releases a new collection, the company may decide to pay for actors on a popular children's TV show to wear items from the clothing line. This captures the attention of their target audience and offers exposure to children and parents.

Related: Defining Your Target Audience: What It Is and Why It's Important

Product placement vs. traditional commercials

Here are two key differences between product placement and traditional commercials:

Length of time

Traditional forms of advertisement, such as television commercials, can last anywhere from one to five minutes. Product placement in media is often much shorter than that, with most products or brands being promoted for fewer than 10 seconds.

Direct vs. indirect advertising

Product placement is a more natural way of advertising products, while traditional commercials take a more direct approach. Traditional advertisements often reach consumers in a straightforward way by directly explaining what the product is and how it can benefit consumers. Product placement is a subtle, less direct way to show consumers a product. For example, a television show can include product placement when a character shops from a popular store. Viewers might not even realize that they are the target audience for a product placement advertisement while watching a character shop.

Examples of product placement

Here are some examples of places you might find product placement advertisements:

Media

Product placement in media involves promoting products through movies, television and other forms of entertainment. Here are a couple of ways that companies use product placement in media to promote their brands:

  • Props: Product placement often involves using props to advertise products in movies, television shows, music videos or video games. For example, if a character in a movie drinks a specific brand of soda, consumers may feel compelled to buy that drink.

  • Settings: The setting of a movie, video game or television show can contain product placement. If a brand wants to promote its location, it may use product placement to show audiences what its location offers. For example, if a hotel is trying to increase its profit, it may pay a television show to film an episode at the hotel to attract customers and increase brand awareness.

Retail

Product placement in retail involves companies paying for a certain space within a store that is more likely to capture a customer's attention. This is an excellent way for businesses to promote specific products to consumers without paying for advertisements. Here are several types of product placement in retail settings:

  • End cap: Store employees build end caps when they want to promote a specific product. End caps are displays arranged in a creative way to feature specific products and brands. Employees place end caps at the ends of store aisles or as a kiosk in the middle of the store so that customers have a better chance of seeing them.

  • Checkout sales: Employees often place products near cash registers to persuade customers to purchase a product as they are checking out, which is commonly referred to as impulse buying. Companies believe that customers may be more likely to purchase their product if they see that item right before leaving the store.

  • Eye-level shelves: Products placed at eye level are likely to sell better than other products. Companies often pay more for stores to place their products at eye level so that customers are more likely to see their products and feel compelled to purchase them.

Explore more articles