The Mortar or the Bricks?

Have you ever read an ADWEEK? It’s really a fascinating magazine. It slices and dices and celebrates advertising in all of its myriad forms. It always delivers something interesting, but the 2/15/16 issue actually delivered an epiphany.

The article didn’t actually know it was delivering an epiphany, it was just innocently reporting, but within it was a valuable lesson for brands that are considering or already utilizing product placement in film and TV. It explored the use of EEG headsets, biometric scanners and facial and eye-tracking software in the pursuit of mind reading consumers. It explains the advertising industry’s attempts to determine how long someone watched a commercial on their smartphone, versus their computer, as compared to their TV set. It pondered the methodologies for reaching the consumer so that their minds could be made up in ways that inspire specific desires for products and services. It suggested the advertisers shape shifting into the tiny cracks in the viewer’s concentration and attention to plant the seeds of “want.” It plotted a course into the mortar between the shows regardless of the bricks that form them.

But product placement and well-executed brand integration (read; discrete) doesn’t muck about in the mortar. It works in the bricks. A perfect example of product placement is actually human; the cast! Personalities are products; the more bankable they are the higher the price tag. And, while they are often hired to slum in the mortar, they build their brand in the bricks. Products should be viewed the same way. If it appears in the bricks, a brand is perceived to be of authentic value, if they appear in the mortar (commercials), they may have more control of their brand messaging, but that message is immediately suspect for having been bought.

So, while advertising agencies slice and dice the data and determine the best way to invade viewer’s deepest, darkest thought processes, product placement agencies like HERO are getting in there the easy way; we are invited.