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The Product Placement Party

Posted by: Thomas Harrison-Lord on 25 May 2016

Did you watch the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration on ITV? It was shown on Sunday 15th May and hosted by the ever-popular duo Ant and Dec. You can watch it here right now, if you fancy it, or not as the case may be. It’s over 2 hours in length!

We all know that ITV is a commercial media outlet, that is unlike the BBC, it is free-to-air and supported by advertising breaks. This was expanded in 2011 to allow paid product placement too.

So imagine what happens when you take a regular advertisement break and then combine it with product placement? The end result was shown as a full-length mini-film, filmed on the Coronation Street set and lasting nearly 3 minutes. It took up a whole ad break slot and featured all your favourite ITV presenters.

Great, so, what was it an advert for? In a massively unique twist, it featured many different products from different companies. Billed as “some of the nation’s favourite brands”, it hops, skips and jumps from one scene to another, each featuring a differentiated product placement. From Cadbury’s Milk Tray, to Interflora, McCain chips and Admiral Insurance. Each with varying degrees of success too.

The full video is embedded below and I urge you to watch it. From a marketing and advertising standpoint, this is something truly new and stand-out. But does it work? No.

For one, you are trying to get people watching and being engaged by 3 minutes of footage, without the merest hint of narrative. A regular 30 second avert has it’s own little story. Something to hook you in and make you remember that particular selling point. This has none of that. John Lewis at Christmas, this is now. It doesn’t flow, each scene awkwardly screwdrivered in. The sole element that gets you watching is that there is more than one brand in the same advert and you may be wondering which is next.

Perhaps that was enough for it to work this one time, as a first. But now the stunt has happened, it won’t be such a big thing the second time, the third time or the fourth. People will slowly see, if they haven’t already, that these are the final throws of an age-old dying advertising model. Internet ad spend is increasing, with Facebook recently overtaking Channel 4 and Sky in UK ad sales. Marketing budgets are going online, and ITV is next on the list to be overtaken.

So while the Queen’s Birthday celebrations may have been an entertaining show and there was a change in UK television advertising, it tasted saccharin sweet and didn’t quite work out. If this happened 10 years ago, I would have no doubt blogged about a potential game changer. In 2016, it gains a mere 7,797 YouTube views. A proper narrative and less cynical production would have no doubt made something worth watching more than once.

Categories: Fox musings
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