Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed a small ‘P’ at the start, and in the breaks, of certain TV programmes. But product placement hasn’t become as commonplace as expected since legislation was updated in 2011, despite the opportunities it presents.
So we at Mars Food UK are excited to be one of the first to embrace the potential - with our brand Uncle Ben’s seeking out the right programming collaboration. But why have there only been a few early adopters?
Some say Brits may be too cynical for product placement, or perhaps that marketeers are unsure of the return on investment (ROI) compared to more “traditional” activities. But there are two other reasons: the first is that natural brand affiliations can sometimes be hard to find and agree. Secondly, some people may not be aware of the altered legislation’s potential.
Brand fit is paramount. Uncle Ben’s sponsorship of Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals is a first for Channel 4 and Uncle Ben’s in terms of combining talent and product placement. Jamie Oliver and the concept of 15-Minute Meals are all about healthy, nutritious and convenient foods - which fits exactly with our brand, Uncle Ben’s. The product range and programme compatibility is clear if you want to cook wholegrain rice as part of a 15 minute meal, you would have to use a product which is ready in two minutes, a need that our Express range satisfies.
Some have asked if product placement will challenge a programme’s authenticity, but that will only occur if the product and programme are not compatible. When working with Channel 4, it and Jamie Oliver had full editorial freedom. We knew the brand and programme affiliation was right, so the editorial direction and Uncle Ben’s fit with the show was an obvious and natural one.
Product placement isn’t substituting our marketing activities, but rather about complementing them enabling us to embed our values with a targeted audience through relevant affiliation. This can be powerful, and we’re excited to be an early adopter. When will others follow suit?
Emma EvisonEmma Evison