Considering the large number of adverts inundating the average consumer daily on radio, television, bill boards among many others platforms, seeking other methods to reach clients in a subtler manner than traditional marketing messages becomes imperative. One of such tool is product placement which is a method of incorporating brand into film. However, despite being an effective tool of advert, it can have a downside when it comes to advertising and capturing the audience in a subtle way. If the placement is not subtle or too obvious, it can disturb the flow of the scene and further make the audience, shift attention to the advert rather than the plot of the film. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to carry out a brand recognition analysis using the Tripartite Typology of Product Placement, in the film, Papa Benji. The primary data was collected through content analysis while the secondary data were collected from scholarly journals and books. Findings demonstrate that the use product placement in Papa Benji outweighs the plot because it is incorporated both in an implicit and explicit way using both brand and script placement. Therefore, the need for marketers and film producers to devise unique ways of grabbing the attention of the viewer without causing disturbance to the flow of the plot becomes imperative. This is to enable film producers integrate brands without over-doing product placement.
Product placement is a growing marketing phenomenon which has received attention in recent times. It is a method of advertising which is not only growing at a fast pace but also growing popular among film producers and marketers. This explains why it is common in films. With the decrease in traditional advertising, Thomas and Kohli (2011:42) write that with every passing day, product placement is popularly growing among marketers and film producers. This stems from the fact that traditional advertising has decreased with the coming of product placement.
Product placement in its most basic form is not a bad thing because it is an easy way for brands to advertise their products to cut costs. If done well, it should be unnoticed by the audience. However, when the product placement takes away from the plot of the movie and becomes a distraction, it becomes an issue. Viewers should be able to watch a movie and connect to the characters on their screen without feeling a subconscious need to buy something. The objective of this paper is to explore the Tripartite Typology of Product placement in the film, Papa Benji.
Among the existing media platforms for product placement, movies are increasing in popularity when targeting a worldwide audience and advertisers consider this to be a cost-effective option to reach an international market (Yee Chan, 2016). In view of the above, one can allude that product placement in movies or TV programmes have beneficial consequences for many stakeholders, ranging from more realistic scenes for viewers through lower production costs to greater sales of the placed product.
However, the increased use of product placement causes a problem. This rests on the notion that when it comes to product placement, being subtle is key. Therefore, in cases where a brand takes a significant role in the story, viewers many realise that the brand was placed to affect their judgements. Thus, it becomes a traditional advertising message, which is the exact opposite of what marketers are trying to achieve with the use of product placement. Even more, so many products in one film can take the viewers mind out of the movie and turn their focus to the products advertised. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to carry out a brand recognition analysis of the film, Papa Benji using the Tripartite Typology of Product placement as conceptualized by Russel (1998).
To expose the degree of vehement product placement in the film, Papa Benji.
To highlight the effect on the movie plot.
To start with, Balasubramanian (1994 :33) defines Product placement as a hybrid message which contains both-advertising and publicity. This definition points to the fact that product placement combines both advertising and publicity to gain the attention of the viewers who also double as the buyers of the product.
Kamleitner and Jyote (2013:633) also define product placement as a “purposeful incorporation of brands into editorial content. This definition points the reader to the fact that when creating contemporary entertainment programmes, contemporary brands and products often appear as part of the programme. However, the phrase “editorial content” suggests that the essence of product placement is not explicitly aimed at selling the product advertised but a powerful tool for generating brand awareness and sales. This is with the aim of creating a voice for the product or brand that connects with the viewers or consumers.
For Williams et al, (2011) product placement is a method of advertising a product or service which has to do with an intentional insertion of specially selected objects into defined messages, for financial gratification, and with the intention of having a promotional effect. The first part of the definition exposes the fact that in product placement, marketers and producers negotiate to place brand name in films while the second part intimates the reader on the end result of product placement which is the promotional effect. This is to say that brand appearances serve promotional purposes, when their appearance is the result of a monetary agreement between the brand and the producer. The above is in line with that of Corniani (2001) who states that product placement is the process of highlighting a product or its trademark during selected scenes of a film or TV series. The process may involve the use of consumption of products by characters in the show, a conversation by characters about the product or displaying the product logo as a background for other events.
Considering the above definitions, this paper submits that product placement is a communication tool where ingredients like the message, the sender and the intent of the brand are often implicit in films. This paper chooses the word implicit because product placement ought to be an indirect way of communicating a brand. Therefore, Product placement which has become increasingly widespread is the practice of placing products of brands in film. Though, not explicitly stated, it is meant to persuade consumers to patronise the placed products in a subtly way.
Strategies for product placement
Russell (1998) described screen, script, and plot placement as a three-dimensional framework of product placement in films. Accordingly, he states that screen placement is purely a visual type of placement which involves placing a brand in the background of a show. This can be done through creative placement. For instance, outdoor advertisement in street scenes as well as on-set placement like kitchen scenes with placed food brands. Here, the screen or the camera shot’s style on the product decides what type of degree of screen placement it is.
On the other hand, script placement can be defined as the process of mentioning a brand in a dialogue. This depends on the tone of the voice, its place in the dialogue and the character that is speaking at the time. This makes script placement varying in degrees of audio placement.
Plot placement according to Russell (1998) is when a product becomes a part of the plot. For instance, building the persona of a character or taking a significant place in the story line. Product placement can be conceived in different degrees of connection between the product and the plot, depending on which combination of visual and verbal components that is practiced. For example, a plot placement is integrated in the screen and conversation, which creates an opportunity, for both visual and auditory encoding. Instead of a pure screen placement that would provide a visual encoding or a pure script placement that would provide an auditory. Regarding product placement, (Astous &Seguin, 1999) further states three types which are: an implicit product placement which portrays a strategy where the product or brand plays a passive role. That is, the product or brand is present during the program but no further attention is put on it. For instance, a logo on a clothing item or a firm’s name in the background. An integrated explicit product placement, the product plays an active role and its benefits and attributes are presented clearly.