Why is brand placement used? Because, as already discussed, it is believed to be effective, but, more specifically, brand placement has a number of advantages compared with traditional advertising, such as 15- or 30-s commercials. First, brand placement probably overcomes the problem of zapping (Avery & Ferraro 2000; d’Astous & Chartier, 2000).
Though it is easy to run to the kitchen for a beer during a commercial break, a person is less likely to run to the kitchen when Reese’s Pieces are being placed on the ground because the viewer presumably wants to watch the movie (Babin & Carder, 1996; d’Astous & Chartier, 2000). Second, brand placements are often associated with well-known actors or actresses, and, as a result, the placement can work as a celebrity endorsement (Avery & Ferraro, 2000).
For example, in a study using focus groups, DeLorme and Reid (1999) found that audiences who are young and who admire a particular movie actor or actress are more likely to associate the brand with the actor or actress and to want to buy the product. Likewise, research has shown that when the main actor in a movie uses a product, the viewers’ memory for the brand is enhanced, and they also have a slightly more positive evaluation of the product than if the actor had not used the product (d’Astous & Chartier, 2000).
Third, brand placement allows for advertisers to target very specific audiences because the demographics of who attends which kinds of movies are well understood by Hollywood (Nebenzahl & Secunda, 1993). Fourth, brand placement has a longer life than does typical advertisement (Brennan, Dubas, & Babin, 1999; d’Astous & Chartier, 2000). With the release of the 20th anniversary E. T., Hershey’s placement of Reese’s Pieces may continue to be effective 20 years after the initial placement. Furthermore, to the extent that people purchase the E. T. videotape or DVD, the placement’s life is extended even further.
Fifth, commercials are regulated as a type of commercial speech. However, there is a fair amount of ambiguity concerning brand placements. Is brand placement commercial speech or does it afford the same protections that the movie is provided? These questions have not been decided by the courts, so brand placements currently enjoy more freedom than more traditional commercial speech (Avery & Ferraro, 2000).
Sixth, audiences seem to have positive attitudes toward brand placements (Nebenzahl & Secunda, 1993). Indeed, audiences have indicated that brand placements enhance the viewing experience because they make the movie more realistic (Avery & Ferraro, 2000). Finally, audiences probably have less-critical responses to brand placements than they do to standard commercials (Babin & Carder, 1996).
When people know that someone is trying to persuade them, they tend to react more critically to a message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). However, when brand placement occurs in a show viewers are watching, they probably do not perceive the placement as persuasive in nature and are less likely to respond critically to the placement (Babin & Carder, 1996).