product placement

product placement
   Product placement forms part of a marketing strategy where manufacturers identify and target an audience of consumers and prepare them for products which they then release on to the market in tandem with, for example, the premiere of a film. The screening of Star Wars was accompanied by a range of toys and clothes for children. Products can also be ‘placed’ in a film, because, for example, seeing Superman drink Coke can boost sales. In Britain, television has been used much more to create the kind of receptive environment for goods which advertisers wish to sell. For example the children’s series Teletubbies has a range of products to accompany it. Stores selling these capitalize on the fact that the goods are from the television series and peer pressure among toddlers and television advertising convinces parents to buy.
   The arena in which product placement is probably most evident in Britain however, is sport. For example, Manchester United football club gets roughly 40 percent of its annual £90m revenue from souvenir and clothing merchandising, whereas Continental clubs’ merchandise contributes on average 14 percent of their total revenue. Clubs are well aware of the power of the identification that supporters make with ‘their’ players, and so purchasers can buy shirts with the number and name of their favourite. They have been attacked for changing their players’ strip (football kit) too often, because this places pressure on parents (often single women on welfare) to buy the latest strip for their boys. Football kit, minus boots, for an eightyear-old boy can cost £80. Hence clubs have been accused of abusing their powerful position. Another contentious issue with regard to product placement is marketing to children. On Saturday mornings in particular, a stream of advertisements for toys is beamed directly at children. This also increases pressure on parents. Television and publishers have teamed up to complement each other’s marketing efforts. It is now commonplace for the book of a television series to be simultaneously available in the shops. James Herriot’s Yorkshire veterinary series is a case in point. Publishers time reprints of classic works which are being televised (Brideshead Revisited, Middlemarch or works of Jane Austen). This often leads to a huge increase in readership, paradoxically so because viewers have less ‘need’ to read the book than hitherto.
   See also: corporate identity

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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