Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: Netflix and the TV Game Change

To say the media landscape has been changing over the last few years would be an understatement of epic proportions. Take last year’s Primetime Emmy Award nominations alone to see how far the media arena has expanded. Netflix, a perennial non-winner, swopped up a surprising 13 nominations, 9 coming from their hit show, House of Cards. While Netflix, as a network, is clearly still no match for HBO, who received 108 Emmy nominations, the nods still points to a change in the media landscape, especially where audiences consume their media… and it also introduces a need for new forms of advertising, being that the “pay-for-content” platforms run on a commercial free basis (which makes it easier to binge watch).

Advertisers are finding a superior way to combat commercial-free networks is to put the ad in the show, you see what they did there? Product placement is trending in the US, has increased 11.4 percent over the past year and is valued at $4.75 billion. Take the Oscar’s product placement/ celebrity endorsement double-whammy with Ellen’s famed selfie with the Samsung Galaxy and Hollywood’s hottest A-listers.

“As product placement grows, evident or not to the eyes of the consumer, agencies have to be more creative and selective to make sure the goals of the placement are met, and there is no risk of a negative impact, ” said Adriana Escarcega, Account Director at The San Jose Group. “Product placements that make sense within the story will most likely be better accepted by the consumer whether it is in a movie, TV show, video game or in a YouTube video.”

Whether the use of a product in a TV show is part of product placement is usually hard to tell, because both sides keep that disclosure under wraps. However, with a few cases, product placement can be inexpensive for brands.

A few years ago, Modern Family crafted an episode exclusively around Phil Dunphy’s quest to obtain an iPad. However, Apple paid nothing for this placement; instead they just provided the device to be used in the episode as a prop.

Apple was able to achieve the same type of bargain with Netflix’s House of Cards. Although the main character, Frank Underwood, uses a Blackberry during scenes, Apple is featured prominently throughout. At one point, nine Apple products are splashed over a table; all turned on, and all at once can be identified as Apple products. However, the use of Apple products throughout the show is not because Apple paid for produce placements. Instead, Apple flooded the House of Cards studio with Apple products, making it easier for the director to decide an Apple product seemed appropriate for the scene.

Arrested Development, another Netflix series, has also resorted to product placement. Tim Horton’s, a coffee chain who’s product appears in numerous shows (How I Met Your MotherHomeland), continued its advertising efforts in Arrested Development.  In one scene, the main characters, Tobias and Lindsay Funke, are seen entering a drug clinic where a pound of Tim Horton’s coffee can be seen strategically placed next to donuts.

However, the risk associated with this strategy is that the product placement can come across as too obvious and forced. This occurrence can create animosity toward a brand, because consumers don’t want to be bombarded with commercials or ad placements while watching a show.

Conan O’Brien outlines this danger of over the top product placement, and might be surmising what’s yet to come, all in a tweet.



Cover Photo Source: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

Anthony is a Junior Executive at SJG. He is currently pursuing a BA in Journalism and a minor in Political Science and Multiculturalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. During his free time, Anthony likes to keep tab on the day’s news and drink way too much coffee.