Monday, February 2, 2009

Authenticity in Youth Product Placement

Under Armour Youth MarketingSitting at MPlanet last week (interview with Mary Dillon from McDonald's here) gave me subjects and topics to ponder for months. While listening to Steve Battista from Under Armour, I thought about a recent product placement for the athletic apparel brand on Friday Night Lights. The Dillon High Panthers were in full game mode when a close up of quarterback Matt Saracen revealed a nice and shiny UA logo on his undershirt.

The authenticity that this brand placement has is peak for the youth market. For those that play (or played) high school sports, or college for that matter know that the majority of players choose Under Armour as their performance wear. It was not out of context for the team to be decked out in the gear and using it on the field as they run up the score on some poor Texas team.

Ford is not an IdolFord + American Idol=Authenticity?
Sitting to Steve's right was Anne Belec from Ford. She was extremely excited for her brand's product placement on youth heavy American Idol. Authenticity fail. The show is known for being a cash cow and will put products any and everywhere to keep their bottom line growing. What place does a car have in a karaoke contest? Exactly, none.

Anne did say that they promotion was a smash, but didn't have many metrics to back it up (not much was asked of it as a disclaimer). I would be interested to see how the young viewers responded to the add (Ford, let me know.)

The CW
CW Youth Music PlacementsOne of the top networks capitalizing on this is the CW and their music placements. At the end of every episode they have a brief recap of music that was featured in the show and points viewers to the to find out more, listen to the tracks and download them. Labels have been eating this up for a few years now and bands have found success on teen heavy shows One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Smallville and others.

The Solution
Teens and young adults can see right though advertising these days and product placement is no exception. When drafting up ways to get your brand into the eyeballs of youth viewers, think about the context in how your brand and product will be used and work it into the script naturally. The best product placements are the ones that would have occurred without you spending money to put it there.

What do you think? How can brands appeal to young viewers in their favorite shows and still remain true to the script?

-Greg Rollett


Eric Schechter February 2, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

I couldn't agree with you more. It seems that a lot of brands nowadays are freaking out about the economy and staying afloat that they will do whatever it takes to get in front of eyeballs (even if they have no business being there i.e your Ford example). I think that brands need to stay true to themselves and find a market that their brand easily fits into instead of forcing themselves into a market where everyone knows the brand is paying to be in that show, movie etc...

This not only leaves a bad taste in the consumers mouth, but it gives the brand less credibility and the consumer more of a reason not buy their product.

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