Tag Archives: tv

Tapping into the booming esports market

PCR BLOG

In July 2019, spanning three days, the largest gathering of gamers from around the world – 40 million – took part in the Fortnite World Cup tournament. Hailed as a monumental moment for esports, the winner, a 16-year-old, took home £2.42 million. The prize sum overshadowed the £1.6 million Shane Lowry won at this year’s Golf Open Championship in Portrush. The esports industry is becoming increasingly popular, rivalling many traditional sporting events with the Fortnite tournament watched by 23,000 people in a sold out New York stadium and millions more through live streams.

This highlights how the gaming industry and its place in culture has evolved, with gamers stepping away from their own consoles to watch others play their favourite games. And not surprisingly, this is reflected in the size of the gaming market which continues to grow rapidly. According to Newzoo, there are reportedly 2.3 billion active gamers globally and 46% of those (1.1 billion) spending, the financial impact to the establishment is significant. More so with the forecasted growth of gaming from $137.9 billion in 2018 to more than $180.1 billion by 2021. Looking just at the UK, the gaming market is now worth a record £5.7 billion thanks in part to the strong foundations in place for innovative games and entrepreneurial developers.

The next 12-18 months looks set to be a very interesting for the sector with some of the big names in gaming hardware expected to reveal their next generation platforms. Expectation is that Sony, who have sold 525 million consoles since launching PlayStation in 1994, will start to ship their latest console in the second half of 2020. And of course both Nintendo and Microsoft will be in the mix too. Microsoft officially announced its next generation hardware, codenamed Project Scarlett, during its E3 2019 conference and it’s due for release in time for “Holiday 2020”.

Before that is the exciting debut of Stadia in Q4 this year which may be a potential fly in the ointment for the established gaming brands. Google’s launch of Stadia is a game-changer, and a move that will have Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony quite concerned. No downloads, no patches and no console makes this the cloud gamers dream, and Google is delivering this incredible service without compromising on graphics quality.

As Phil Harrison VP and general manager at Google stated when launching Stadia: “It’s a new generation platform, rather than a next generation platform”. In evolving the concept of platforms, rather than recreating them, Stadia will be a tough act to follow, with sharing options via YouTube, which has 63 million daily viewers worldwide, Google Assistant built in, 4K resolution games at 60 frames per second with HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a plan to support 8K resolution in the future.

The excellent features are great news to those who have grown up used to on-demand web-based entertainment, app-based games and instant updates to technology, but for generations who are familiar with buying physical consoles and games, this could be a transition they may not make because nostalgia can come into play. Owning a console and saving up to buy the latest must have game and completing it before trading it in to buy the next release, has been a pleasure to many.

The generational changes in consumers has seen Millennials identify with nostalgia and they recapture their youth through console gaming just as they have been doing for over 20 years. There is a shared enjoyment amongst social groups in getting together and playing a multiplayer game on Mario Kart on the original Wii. It’s also interesting to see how the retro gaming sector tapping into this and making headlines. Available to buy this Christmas will be a reimagined full-sized reissue of the Commodore 64.

Giving this generation a chance to either buy or play the consoles and games of their youth could open up a new opportunity for gaming retailers, because a streaming service is not great news for those retailing the hardware to eager gamers needing to upgrade to access the dream being sold by the platforms. Indeed, GAME has been battling tough high street conditions and has seen in the past three months a successful take over by Sports Direct. The British sports gear retailer said it did not believe that, as a standalone business, GAME was “able to weather the pressures that it is facing”.

Furthermore, the introduction of streaming could see the resale market suffer too, again a blow to high street stores such as GAME and CEX.

This is an evolving and exciting market with opportunities and pitfalls for the whole supply chain. I started this piece discussing the phenomenon that was the Fortnite World Cup and for retailers, this presents a huge opportunity to tap into this ‘experience’ economy and revive their fortunes by using empty high street spaces to create purpose-built gaming arenas for live gaming where the community can come together. But there’s no doubt that we’re going to see a ferocious battle between Stadia and the console manufacturers – so let the games begin.

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How 5G will boost the smart home market

PCR Blog

Over the last few years, smart home technology has revolutionised the way we live at home and according to PWC’s white paper, ‘Connected Home 2.0’, £10.8bn will be spent on smart home devices in the UK in 2019. But despite this, a recent survey we carried out into the connected home highlighted consumer frustration with smart home technology, with consumers citing that they can’t get their smart home technology to connect to each device and talk to each other, they have no idea how it all works, they are worried about security and there’s little perceived benefit or value.

Whilst this may sound negative, this presents a huge opportunity for 5G to boost further device adoption and showcase the future possibilities in the home.

There’s been a lot of hype around 5G – from downloading a full HD movie in under five seconds to making fully automated vehicles a reality – but I believe 5G will be a transformative technology for the home, as it’s spearheading a multi-dimensional world connecting devices, brands and people in real time with its fast bandwidth and reduced latency. Take a look round your home, count up the numerous devices that rely on a strong wireless connection to stream, to work, to secure, to survive – tablets, mobiles, TVs, voice assistants, PCs, thermostats, light-bulbs, alarms, cameras, and gaming right through to connected appliances. Without a good connection, they can all come to a grinding halt.

Stadia by Google is an example of where 5G and gaming complement each other. No downloads, no patches and no console makes this the cloud gamers dream, and Google is delivering this incredible service without compromising on graphics quality. With 2.3bn active gamers globally and 46% of those (1.1bn) spending, the financial impact to the establishment is significant. Stadia will be a tough act to follow, with sharing options via YouTube, which has 63m daily viewers worldwide, Google Assistant built in, 4K resolution games at 60 frames per second with HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a plan to support 8K resolution in the future. Now with Stadia, the internet – accessed increasingly via 5G – will be your store, with the network and data centre as your platform.

The innovation that is 5G will provide an alternative to fixed wireless internet making things connect quickly, faster, nicely and simply. From rural areas where broadband speeds are poor to urban areas where speeds can suffer from congestion, 5G will enhance the possibilities for entire communities and not only the smart home.

This will pave the way for 5G enabled fully integrated living spaces that adjust to the needs of each member of the family, changing the way people entertain, consume media, use their utilities, communicate and cook. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home are only the start and we’ve seen just a fraction of what personal assistants are capable of. Google announced at CES earlier this year that it wants to make its assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life; in the home, in the car and on mobile devices. 5G will be that enabler.

Layer on top of this the possibilities of 5G enabled in-home augmented and virtual reality for cooking. Imagine at the touch of a button, Delia or Jamie standing next to you showing you how to cook one of their recipes. Sit down with your friends and family to watch a tennis match and image real time sports data appearing over tennis players as they hit the ball. 5G will make smart homes even smarter by unshackling developers from the speed restrictions and other issues that exist with today’s solutions where devices rely on Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth connections.

For those who feel security could be an issue, the good news is that mobile operators are ensuring security is built into the fabric of their 5G networks and there’s no reason for 5G networks to be any less secure to use than 4G. When connecting a device to a 5G network the same protocols you’d apply to security software, passwords etc. should be applied as normal, however it is worth noting that all data sent over 5G is encrypted and 5G devices will offer increasingly advanced security options. Interestingly, according to research from Ericsson, 29% of people would like DNA authentication to be a biometric security option.

The reality is that 5G can provide a more consistent approach, making things easier to setup and thus encouraging product development through to subsequent consumer adoption and increased usage of the vastly developed Internet of Things. With inbuilt future proofing, one of the most interesting effects will be the societal impact 5G will have for our ageing population, assisting those who are fit but may be less able to manage themselves. This may blur the lines between hospital and home. For many, it’s more effective to manage the healthcare of patients who require the most resources from home rather than via our currently overloaded NHS. In addition, its adoption can reduce loneliness and speed of response in the event of an emergency.

We’ve already seen how sensor operated smart home tech can alert families to movement, so they know their elder relatives are up and about in the house and not lying there injured. There are also remote surgeries where doctors see patients by video call, however buffering is often an issue in remote locations, which makes the service more difficult for vulnerable people to use. The implementation of 5G will take this to a whole new level; real-time remote monitoring of medication usage; food intake levels and exercise; connecting the vulnerable to seamlessly operated telehealth services and tracking indicators from sleep to blood pressure and insulin levels.

It can help power personalised, preventative and smarter care capabilities and elevate connected medicine to an unprecedented level, helping elderly people live fulfilling and productive lives on their terms. This is exciting times for a growing societal issue here in the UK but let’s not underestimate the understanding we need of the health ecosystem and what it will take to implement the systems to connect to these technologies.

The opportunities 5G technology offers all generations extends beyond the home and to the streets through autonomous vehicles, traffic management and the smart monitoring of the environment around you, telling you in real-time, for example, where best to avoid pollution on your daily run. Moreover, everything you would currently expect to be able to access or control in the home will be available to you wherever you are, without any comprises imposed on you by being away from regular Wi-Fi based connectivity.

Ericsson forecasts that by 2024, 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9bn, and that coverage could blanket up to 65% of the world’s population.

The UK’s largest network operator, EE, was the first to launch 5G in the UK on 30th May, 2019, beaten by the Swiss who launched in April. Service started in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, and Manchester, with several other cities joining before 2020. Vodafone also launched on 3rd July 2019 in seven cities with 12 other cities to be included before 2020. Three will join the 5G race in August in London. A total of 25 other locations will get 5G in the UK via Three before 2020. Lastly O2, with no published launch date, announced its plans to roll out its 5G network in 2019 in Cardiff, London, Belfast, and Edinburgh to start, with more areas getting 5G in 2020.

Whilst the UK is already partially 5G enabled, devices are limited and we’re not that far ahead of the vast majority of developed nations whom all plan to launch in 2019/2020 such as Germany, Italy and Norway all behind Vodafone Spain who are ahead of all EU nations having launched on 15th June in 15 cities.

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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Could Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style boost TV sales?

tv blog

We’ve been warned time and time again that the night is dark and full of terrors, but I don’t think we realised just how dark things were going to get…

Episode 3 of season 8 of Game of Thrones aired this weekend, and it was quite the spectacle. Without writing a bunch of spoilers, let’s just say it was 82 minutes of genius writing and acting. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I squinted… I squinted a lot.

Set at night-time, and in amongst an abundance of fog, there was no doubt that it was going to be dark and mysterious. But along with the 70,000 other fans who complained on Twitter, I was unable to see a damn thing during certain scenes.

I found myself pausing the show and desperately fiddling about with image settings on my TV. I checked my internet connection, I turned all the lights off, I closed the blinds, but it didn’t matter what I did, there seemed to be some problem with the cinematography.

Or was there?

“No, it wasn’t a technical hitch, it was intentional, as the showrunners and director wanted the episode to be dark and forgot to tell viewers that it should be watched in a dark environment,” Dan Todaro, MD of Gekko Field Marketing told PCR.

Sure enough Fabian Wagner, the show’s cinematographer, insisted that his filming wasn’t to blame for the issues and HBO’s compression of the episode was to the problem. However, despite all the back and fourth finger pointing, it’s not really any one group’s fault.

“The GoT cinematographer is claiming that the pixelation and muddy dark colours that fans encountered on their TVs and mobile devices were due to HBO’s compression of the episode, made worse if being viewed on a streaming service with a weak connection,” said Todaro.

“However, is this more a case of technology overtaking consumer demand? Not everyone has the technology to view in UHD either on a device or TV yet flagship ‘big budget’ productions are using today’s technology. Compound this with a splash of creative licence and run the risk of upsetting die-hard fans, as happened with this episode.”

This is the same conclusion that I came to. My TV is almost 7 years old. Is it technically MY fault that I don’t have the right technology in my home to enjoy such advanced cinematography? And if so, how many other people are having their entertainment ruined by simply continuing to use their current devices?

“Interestingly, over half of British consumers buying a new TV are doing so because they are replacing an existing, working set (44%) or buying an additional set (16%),” pointed out Todaro. “The HDR feature is particularly important to those upgrading or buying an additional product indicating that not everyone has the capability to enjoy content as intended by producers.”

If that’s the case, Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style could possibly contribute to a boost in TV sales – something retailers should be taking advantage of.

“When purchasing a new TV, bricks and mortar stores are still a dominant influence in the final decision making process. Analysts expect to see more 65 – 80 inch models and the first 8k sets from several brands become standard ranging in 2019,” explained Todaro.

“Was this episode a rare example of content overtaking technology and consumer demand? Maybe, but for those savvy brands and retailers, it’s an opportunity.”

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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The ‘C’ word

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Now, your grandmother may not like it, but connected viewing and content are changing the way we watch entertainment, and changing the shape of traditional broadcasting as we know it.

We, as consumers, like to time-shift our TV viewing. No, not like the famous Quantum Leap, but watching what we want when it’s convenient for us to do so.

In May, 13.7 per cent of all TV was watched time-shifted via a catch-up service, up from 6.9 per cent in 2010. This percentage will most certainly continue to grow as more consumers make use of connected services.

With the increase of streaming options and greater bandwidth from our broadband providers, there are many options for consumers to watch their favourite shows that don’t involve a TV, not forgetting very smart services like Freeview Play and Sky Q.

We love streaming on the go and away from the traditional living room setting, with 32 per cent of total viewing time being done through streaming on a device other than a TV. That’s 11,221,204 hours a week in the UK.

We will stream anything it would seem, with four episodes of EastEnders topping a recent catch-up list. What we seem to avoid watching on catch-up and make an effort with is appointment TV, for example live sporting events, which meant sport did not break the top 50 of time-shifted programming. Rather, sports topped the live streaming list, with consumers looking to watch the match with everyone else rather than catch up later.

On top of live streaming and catch-up services, some smart TVs and streaming devices also give easy access to TV and film streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Quality productions such as Orange is the New Black, which costs nearly $4 million an episode to produce, and House of Cards, costing slightly more at $4.5m, have meant that paying to stream is an acceptable proposition. Netflix will spend $5 billion on programming in 2016 – this is on a par with traditional broadcasters such as Fox Networks, and higher than CBS.

Quality, and the ability to be more risqué, is paying off for the non-traditional content producers. They are new, credible and serious players, mixing up the way we consume drama, and now also factual TV.

With Netflix boasting 81 million subscribers in its quarterly earnings report, it’s easy to understand how connected content and the ability to view via multiple devices is again changing the face of broadcasting and how we consume TV. With the BBC license coming in at an exceptionally good value, £145.50 a year, it’s a lot of high-quality media on many platforms to even consider it expensive. But, with Netflix averaging £89.88 and Amazon Prime £79 a year, it’s got tough competition from all angles, Government included.

Grandma might be happy with her old terrestrial channels, but many consumers will be looking to access all this amazing content by upgrading to a new smart TV or other connected device. For your store, connected services are the perfect USP to sell these new products – smart TVs are rapidly becoming the base level for the category, much like HD is now. What’s important is reassuring consumers that these services will enhance their viewing experience, not hinder it with difficult-to-use software or hidden charges.

Have a smart TV set up in your store with a live aerial feed and internet connection ready for your staff to demo. Let interested shoppers interact and play with the TV, letting them explore the features and benefits of streaming and catch-up services, demonstrating their ease of use and accessibility to free terrestrial catch up or paid for content. With GfK estimating that over five million 4K TVs will be sold in the UK by the end of 2017, smart TV is complementing UHD in equal measure.

With demand services making up four per cent of TV viewing for all ages, and more than doubling to 8.7 per cent among the same 16 to 24 age group, it’s understandable that Amazon can afford to spend $4m per episode on The Grand Tour, and Netflix’s market capitalisation is now $42.3 billion.

If you aren’t offering streaming devices and content cards like Google Play, you aren’t giving your customers, of all ages, what they want and are potentially missing out on an opportunity to increase your margin.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/the-c-word/

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Europe’s Warm Embrace to Advertising

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I understand the importance of a uniform approach for global brands, ensuring the same message, feel and equity is experienced by consumers whether they’re in Bangkok, Bombay or New York. However, on a recent trip to the style capital of Europe Milan, I experienced a global brand that successfully tapped into a region where style and brand are paramount.

As marketers we must not only make our brands inspirational but also accessible to all and in Milan, Samsung has tapped into a demographic you may have never thought possible through some particularly clever use of technology.

The Ambrosiana Gallery in Milan’s Duomo district was once the studio of Michelangelo and displays not only the works of the great man, but precious artwork in a remarkably beautiful and ancient setting. Samsung however, has cleverly added a unique modern twist through the use of technology, integrating smart phone functionality as a means of interpreting the art. Next to each piece is a magnetic/electronic chip that gives visitors more information when they place their smartphones over it.

In this instance it’s about the art that you’re viewing but – to Samsung – it’s about you engaging with the brand and experiencing the technology as a portal bestowing you entrance. For some it’s a revelation and I’m guessing that for many of the visitors who make a point of using the feature, it is just that.

What better way for a brand to show that it understands the consumer than by placing a campaign in a venue that is synonymous with the city’s characteristics and fits the perception of Milan. Samsung not only takes into account the consumer demographics within the city, but also uses a variety of publicly-available information to create a picture of how well-suited the city is to the brand. Beyond Samsung this model is adaptable for virtually any type of product. For a fashion label, I am sure a place like the Ambrosiana Gallery would make a beautiful home for greeting fashion-conscious consumers. A depiction of understanding for the cultural life of cities makes all the difference when analysing whether a brand’s campaign is relevant or not.

You only have to read the stats to know that Italy is a place of adland freedom, with a huge Samsung advert adorning the side of the city’s iconic Duomo Cathedral as it undergoes renovations. Could you imagine Samsung creating something like this in the UK, a Christmas installation in St. Paul’s Cathedral? In the UK, our heritage buildings are fiercely protected and they would certainly lock their doors to a brand’s knock. In Italy however, advertising can be found on buses, trams, buildings in glorious Technicolor lights, allowing brands to speak to their target audiences, even when they least expect it. Rules, whether right or wrong, are abandoned. Brands have a luxury of freedom that they don’t have in other countries.

Italians are I suppose, used to a heavier level of brand messaging. Just look at the production values of national TV (in particular any transmitted by a Berlusconi company). The advertising is plentiful and sometimes even better than the programme being watched! With this in mind, are Italians (or European’s in general) more accepting of consumer electronic brand advertising as they know what they want and their maximum price point for quality products or specific brands?

Subsequently I believe this has resulted in a market where brands are not commoditised and able to sell at a price point that enables a margin and sustainable, profitable growth as opposed to crowded categories with brands trading at a loss and eventually abandoning the category altogether.

Could this be why so many UK retailers have unsuccessfully succeeded in Europe and beyond?

Image credit: Leonard Ambrosiana 

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/11/25/europes-warm-embrace-advertising/

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Are retailers wasting money with their big budget Christmas TV campaigns?

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When your local supermarket, department store or specialist retailer breaks a brand new above-the-line ad in November, you know the silly season is upon us. With so much revenue and profit generated in this quarter you can understand why the stakes are high. Ads increase exponentially in prime time slots to lure us and retailers live off the hope that the shopping public will spend their hard earned cash through their cash registers. Production values go up, a memorable ditty is sung and a plethora of celebrity smothers the campaign, but do retailers really need to spend so much on the celebrity endorsement? As a marketer, I fully embrace the necessity of advertising and I understand the value in it. I agree that prime time advertising slots are a must if you want to make an impact, as are production values, but based on the criticism lauded on the lacklustre impact Marks & Spencer’s “Leading Ladies” campaign, can retailers justify the expense?

In August Annie Leibovitz shot and featured 10 leading ladies from Oscar winning actress Helen Mirren and artist Tracey Emin to drive sales of ladies fashion (pictured). Did the campaign need to be so “high budget”? Beautiful and well produced was the advert, but I can’t help feel that the garments the ladies were selling were somewhat lost in the foray of the campaign. It was not great fashion and to be honest I doubt many women felt drawn to the concept that these leading ladies really dress in M&S, felt comfortable in what they were told to wear or really engaged with consumers to convince that M&S was back on trend. After all, they’re usually sporting the latest designer labels down the red carpet. With Marks & Spencer posting its ninth consecutive quarter of falling clothing sales, the results certainly don’t live up to the celeb hype. Therefore, you’d believe a rethink was in order for Christmas Peak but not so. Rosie Huntingdon Whitely, David Gandy and another Oscar winner Helena Bonham Carter feature but I reserve my judgment on whether this will truly resonate with the average M&S shopper this time round.

From Waitrose to Debenhams to John Lewis with its just released Lily Allen advert singing the Keane song Somewhere Only We Know, retailers will spend according to market analyst Nielsen, an estimated £390m on advertising over the last three months of 2013. That’s £128m more than one retailer M&S reported in profit for the first 6 months trading. But then John Lewis reported record sales last Christmas, so ads can work but you need the quality products to help close the loop.

Brands in crowded categories may require celebrity endorsement to drive advocacy, however some do it better than others. Do retailers really need to drive our emotion to shop in their stores with the glamour of celebrity wearing, eating or commenting on the quality, style and taste of what are really just run of the mill products? What’s more, how much of the campaign is devoted to the celebrity? I can’t imagine that the aforementioned Oscar winning actresses are inexpensive; on the contrary, they are eating into an already squeezed margin. And do celebrities themselves truly embrace the brand enough to tap into its target audience? I doubt the M&S leading ladies of the summer are donning M&S’ A/W collection, even when they pop out for a pint of milk.

Some of the heavyweights have ditched celebrities this Christmas. Asda has slashed investment in its Christmas advertising campaign and blasted rivals’ “celebrity filled” ads. The grocer has cut its budget by 10% and put value at the heart of its festive messaging.  It has also been announced that the Tesco ad will not be celebrity-focused either. We shall see if they turn their savings this Christmas into profit.

Brands are increasingly defined by experiences, so the use of celebrities has to perpetuate the story and allow consumers to visualise the products as part of their lives. Celebrity ads have become ubiquitous. Marketers often scrap over celebrities for a chance to use their name. The need for standout means marketers are exploring new approaches to maximise the celebrity’s appeal. Some work, others fail, some are unproven. Regardless of approach, the ad has to be credible and authentic.

For brands, often such deals give advertisers a direct line to celebrities’ fan followings via their personal Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. However, the true asset is a star’s relevance, buying a marketer the kind of buzzy exposure that only a Hollywood headliner can bring. The choice has to be right. So why tech brands have enrolled the world’s biggest stars to endorse cutting-edge tech products is anyone’s guess. Kevin Bacon for EE, Robert Downey Jr for HTC and David Beckham for Motorola back in the day; I really can’t see the connections here – please tell me if I’m wrong. Brand recall is vital but let’s not forget the goal here, revenue, and whilst Beyoncé may drive me towards buying Pepsi, do I care which retailer I purchase it in?

No one will argue more than me that ATL campaigns are crucial. But I shall enjoy critiquing from my sofa the raft of celebrity appearances and voiceovers, which will grace my TV screen over the coming months. Perhaps I will be congratulating my choice in viewing via Freeview+ to allow me to pre-record and fast forward past the ads to my favourite Christmas special. Then again I may just hold out for John Lewis’ much lauded Disney –inspired masterpiece.

Read the full article at http://wallblog.co.uk/2013/11/12/are-retailers-wasting-money-with-their-big-budget-christmas-tv-campaigns/

Daniel Todaro is Managing Director at field marketing agency Gekko.

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Has Product Placement Gone Too Far?

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Product placement within film and TV is hardly breaking news. Since the dawn of broadcast media, brands have been eager to muscle in on our attentions and put their logos in front of us. We now expect to see James Bond with his Omega watch, driving his Aston Martin and flashing his latest smartphone. But I have to ask, are brands now taking product placement to a whole new patronising level?
 
Recently, we took the kids on a cinema trip to see The Smurfs 2 (not my choice, I hasten to add!). I can’t say I was expecting an Oscar-worthy, two-hour emotional tour-de-force of filmmaking, but I was astounded by the degree of product placement within the film. Prior to the screening, I wasn’t aware that it was a Sony Pictures production, but by the end I was wondering if the script was actually based around Sony products!
 
From the newscaster presenting in front of a Sony LED TV to every single adult cast member using a Sony Mobile (of course, demonstrating its full range of services), I actually think it’s difficult to argue that the brands didn’t tailor the script to meet their product placement needs. The villain Gargamel even used a Sony Vaio tablet to cook up his dastardly plans. Twice!
 
As it transpires, Sony Pictures secured deals worth $150 million from over 100 corporate partners to promote a raft of products within the film, far exceeding the production budget of $110 million. To my kids, and I’m sure every other child in that theatre, this likely didn’t register. But for us more brand-aware adults, it was so blatant that I have no doubt I missed several more Sony products woven into the script.
 
Are brands beginning to push their luck a bit too far? Investment in the film and TV industry is crucial, but, in exchange for a sizable cash injection, brands are naturally going to push for as much of the limelight as possible, with scant regard for the script. The larger the investment, the larger the degree of control exerted.
 
The trend was highlighted in typically overstated-fashion by Morgan Spurlock last year with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – a documentary on product placement with a $1.5 million budget entirely funded by… product placement. As brands become an even more ever-present constant in every facet of our lives, the natural progression is that the volume will further increase and the stakes raised even higher.
 
The connotations for the film and TV industry are slightly worrying, particularly at a time where the industry – I believe – is enjoying the rudest of health in recent years through some remarkable films, TV content and documentaries. I wonder if, as brands seek greater screen-time, we are going to see a day in the not-too-distant future when an actor will refuse to endorse a brand in a movie? Or will the lure of money continue to trump all as more and more blockbuster movies appear as little more than very long adverts with a storyline bolted on?
 
To some extent, audiences do want to see product placement within films; for example, to see a character entering Starbucks as opposed to a trademark-friendly, fictional alternative adds a degree of realism to proceedings. However, there is a fine line that needs to be observed or else the brand risks sticking out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, since James Bond swapped his Martini for a Heineken, Will Smith dwelt a bit too long on a pair of Converse in I, Robot and Superman reboot Man of Steel hedged it’s box-office failure by securing over 100 global brand partners to the tune of $160 million, the act of product placement has been increasingly taking the spotlight away from the actual stories themselves.
 
I like to think I can appreciate both great branding and great filmmaking, but how closely should we be allowing these two disciplines to merge? With cinema visits in decline and gimmicky features such as 3D failing to take off, the money has to come from somewhere after all. But is it in the brands’ best interests to push their own agendas at the expense of great filmmaking? Is it in their best interests to appear cheesy, naff and downright uncool, thereby damaging their valuable brand equity?
 
You would think not, but, still, I can’t help but feel that it’s up to us – the audience – to make that stand.

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/11/05/has-product-placement-gone-too-far/

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