When is the Right Time to Think About Product Placement?

While product placement may look simple when we see it done well, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Jennifer Lopez riding a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle in The Mother

Product placement strategy is easy, right? Just drop off a box of your product on the set of your favorite TV show and wait for your brand to appear on screen. Well, not exactly, or more accurately, not even close. While product placement may look effortless when we see it done well, there’s more to it than meets the eye. So, what’s the key to success? Time.

Depending on the type of content (broadcast, daytime, cable and premium cable, streaming, or feature film) you’re considering for you’re brand’s product placement strategy, gestation periods can vary from just a few months to a year plus. While it may seem like a lengthy process, your product placement agency and production teams have it down to a science.

Product placement at its best gives your brand its meaningful moment on screen, naturally integrating your product into the story without bringing the plot to a grinding halt. That kind of thoughtful product placement begins at the earliest stages of content creation and requires the input, creativity and expertise of potentially multiple stakeholders throughout the entire process. The more time that a writers’ room and production team spend imagining the possible integrations of your product, the more likely you’ll end up with a product placement that not only gets your brand on screen, but maybe even gives your brand a starring role.

The sooner your product placement agency can connect you to the writers and production team, the more opportunity your brand will have to be organically crafted into the storyline. So just how much lead time is needed? It really depends on the content.

Streaming content and films typically have more flexibility than linear television that is tied to seasonal schedules. A good rule of thumb for streaming and film is to allow a window of 12-14 months in advance of when you want to see your product on screen. While that may seem like an extended period of time, think about the impact that only a blockbuster film or the next big streaming series can deliver. By planning well in advance, the results would be worth the wait, and product placement is still the best and one of the only ways to get your brand into this kind of non-ad-supported content.

Broadcast product placement opportunities can deliver mass audiences due their popular prime time series in a few short months. However due to their consistent seasonality, brands need to approach the productions early on (Aug-March) to secure an opportunity before the writer’s room wraps for the season.

Cable and premium cable offer year-round content solutions for audiences and brands, but also require a 3-6 month lead time to craft an organic moment that highlights your brand seamlessly into the narrative.

If you seek a quicker turnaround, look to daytime and late-night content which can be executed in mere months or weeks. These types of product placements also offer an opportunity for deeper messaging. Imagine a daytime host interviewing a brand ambassador. It’s an opportunity to really educate viewers about a brand or specific product.

By working closely with your product placement agency and clearly defining your target and KPIs, you can create an always-on product placement strategy across various types of content, enhancing all of your other marketing and advertising efforts. So, what are you waiting for?

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