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QUEEN OF PRODUCT PLACEMENT “RU PAUL” DRESSES BRANDS IN STARRING ROLES.

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Monday, 11 August 2014
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Not long ago, brand integrations on
television could be kind of a drag. To get
noticed, marketers relied on standard,
sometimes clumsy product placement
tactics like putting digitally enhanced
samples on an emcee’s desk or filling a sitcom
family’s refrigerator with goods.
Experts agree such ploys won’t cut it with
today’s savvy viewers, who are tuning out forced
attempts to link brands with their favorite shows.
What’s more, the results of such placements can
be difficult if not impossible to track, bedeviling
brand managers and network execs hungry for
consumer engagement data.
Welcome to the age of immersive integration, a
sophisticated, highly creative hybrid that fuses
content and commerce by making brands
intrinsic elements of the drama, excitement and
storyline of prime-time programs.
“The transition from product placement to
product integration is an evolution driven by the
need for brands to be more meaningful to
consumers,” says Patricia Martin, founder and
CEO at trend-tracking firm LitLamp
Communications and an expert on entertainment
and popular culture. More than ever, advertisers
“need to win hearts and minds,” she says.
“That’s why Hollywood and talent agents are
diving deeper into brand integration as brands
and agents look for alliances … rather than getting
Kim Kardashian to wear your watch or tweet that
she’s sipping your beverage.”
Brands are placing big bets on initiatives designed
to engage viewers who skip ads or are distracted
from messages. “The typical viewer today is
arguably not just watching TV—there is usually
multitasking occurring and a second screen,” notes
Mathew Curtis, assistant professor at the University
of Southern California Annenberg School for
Communication. So brands use integrations to make
sure their messages “follow” consumers and spur
engagement across formats. “A brand wants to
extend the viewer beyond the TV episode and onto
another screen such as social media,” says Curtis.
“This allows for more accurate data gathering.”
Effective integrations run the gamut from sponsored
segments to elaborate, series-themed promotions. In
some cases, the integrations don’t even appear
during a program. “When integrations are done
well, both the brand and show are elevated,” says
Amy Wigler, svp, integrated marketing at Viacom’s
MTV and Logo . “If it’s done right … you’re buying
the credibility of the show, it’s transferred to the
brand, and it furthers the storyline.”
The most important element, says Wigler, is that
integrations play off program content in an organic,
relevant way to enhance and extend the viewer
experience. In best-case scenarios, these campaigns
create good vibes and ultimately consumer loyalty.

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