Product placements have their place, but it has never been the solution to the problem in advertising of how to sell something without seeming like you’re just selling it. A friend of mine the other day mentioned that Creative Directors may have to swallow the hard medicine and just stick the logo of their product in the corner of the screen during commercials so people time-shifting can at least see that with their tivos. With people fast-forwarding through your ad, you’ve basically got a static, soundless image and who better to consult on static soundless images than the old king of print David Ogilvy?
Even for creatives who want to continue with innovative ways to sell their product in moving pictures, one possible solution is to go with Ogilvy. The man was the king of print because he offered content that peaked people’s interest, that explained not only why the product was better, but how it was better. Take the classic Hathaway Man ads, it had the dude with the eyepatch, but it also explained why the shirts were better, and how the tailoring showed this.
This sort of thing applies to commercials today too. It simply isn’t enough to show why product x is better than product y a la toothpaste and detergents, and a nifty cartoon or crazy story can be fast-forwarded. The Hey Whipple pet peeve of having something so annoying people go for it is also going to be ignored, because consumers now have the option of literally blasting Mr. Whipple and skipping your commercial. So what exactly is the solution? 2 things to start with:
1. Commercials must be appealing enough that somebody will watch the whole thing.
Do this however you want, but a suggestion would be the BMW ‘commericals of ’01 to ’02. I have yet to see branded content so exciting. The whole package was an anthology of short film stories, just about all of them showcased some feature of the BMW such as power steering, easy handling, speed, and each had a distinct and memorable tale told by a world-class director built in. Anybody into celebrities, film, art, cars, action would have saw them, and their immense success can be seen in the way people still search and watch them on Youtube today. When you can make an impression lasting 7 years, you know you’ve achieved a connection and delivered the goods for the client. To extrapolate on this a little further, you might want to include useful tips for how to spot the added advantage of your product, afew useful pointers theat provide a feeling of value for the viewer.
2. Commercials Must Stick in the Mind After the First Viewing
Once your potential ADD-addled customer (in this day and age, aren’t we all) sits down and seeks to watch the commercial all the way through at least once, you have to make sure that, since s/he is unlikely to watch it again anyhow with Tivo, the next time it’s brought to their attention will be in the grocery aisle, the iStore, the shopping mall, or whatever retail location exists for your product and that they will remember you, why you’re better and why they should buy it. Commercials then, must stick in viewers’ minds the first time.
This of course makes things tougher, because your window to sell is smaller and you will have to work harder to make sure the ad got them hooked. But given the alternative of a big logo being fast-forwarded through, this is a welcome challenge to any creative.