Russell, C. A. Advances in Consumer Research
, vol. 25, pgs. 357-362 (1998)Everyone remembers seeing Reese’s Pieces candies in the movie "E.T." and Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy apparel in "Breakfast at Tiffanys." Seinfeld’s favorite cereal brands are well known to all regular viewers of his NBC television show. These are just a few of the multitude of branded products that appear in movies or television programs. This practice of product placement usually involves a fee that manufacturers pay to have their products included as background on television and movies. Consumer marketers spend an estimated $50 million annually in product placements in the movie industry alone (Elliott 1997).
Even though its effectiveness as an advertising tool appears accepted among practitioners, product placement has not generated much research interest in the marketing discipline. Previous studies of product placement have focused on brand recall or recognition (Steortz 1987, Babin and Carder 1996) or attitudes towards product placement (Gutpa and Gould 1997). Moreover, there is no apparent theoretical framework which describes this phenomenon. The objective of this paper is to present theoretical support for a framework for how product placement works. The articulation of the theoretical framework is best summarized in terms similar to McCracken’s meaning transfer model (1988). As depicted in Figure 1, we posit an adapted meaning transfer model in which the product meaning associated with a popular television show or movie is ultimatey transferred to the individual viewer.
We first differentiate between types of placement and posit a three dimensional framework based on the information modalities of the placements. We then incorporate transformation as a means for assessing the effectiveness of a placement. Finally, we examine the nature of the show-product linkage in terms of learning theory, and the strength of the show-individual linkage in terms of behavioral modeling.