Strategic Product Placement: A Weapon in the Fight for the Consumer Dollar
Product placement is a promotional tactic that is used by brands with varying degrees of impact. Just seeing a brand make an appearance in a film or movie or used by a famous person is one thing. But truly effective product placement should take into account both the product and the venue and weave these two elements together in a strategic manner. A good example of this is a recent effort by Farmer's Insurance.
A relatively new and very popular show on Food Network is Cutthroat Kitchen. The premise of Cutthroat Kitchen is a competition among four chefs involving a series of cooking rounds. Each chef is given opportunities throughout the show to purchase sabotages, auction style, to use against the other chefs. These sabotages are notoriously difficult and unusual, such as having to cook wearing lobster claws on both hands or prep all food on a set of bunkbeds. In a very clever promotion, Farmer's Insurance supplemented their standard ad spots during a recent episode with a product placement. One of the items that contestants were able to bid on was not actually another sabotage, but rather a "policy" from Farmer's that offered protection against a future sabotage.
I'm impressed by this idea on several levels. Buying protection against a future event is a huge asset to someone competing on this particular show and this is obviously a perfect fit for Farmer's product offering. The tone of Cutthroat Kitchen is also in line with Farmer's current campaign featuring the wry humor of actor J.K Simmons and creative examples of the unpredictable nature of the need for insurance (a laundry room overflowing with suds or jewelry stolen by a pirate, for instance). Adding to the impact of the placement is a level of exclusivity that I'm sure was carefully arranged. I've seen most episodes and cannot recall a similar placement by another advertiser. When auction items are revealed, the Cutthroat Kitchen viewer completely expects another imaginative hindrance to be revealed so the appearance of the Farmer's protection pass is attention-grabbing within the framework of the show – and an example of smart marketing.
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