A Coffee Maker’s Debut in British Product Placement

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Product placement or embedded marketing in is not a new concept in the United States. Product placement is a form of marketing where branded goods or services are placed in the context of the story line of a televisionshow, a movie or in music videos. While the manufacturer pays for the placement, it’s not specifically identified as an advertisement.
Advertisers in America have long known that they could benefit from their products being integrated into the story lines and sets of popular shows. Likewise producers have understood that this meant aligning their show with certain brands, but that more importantly it meant money.
One of the more significant examples of product placement was the use of Reese’s Pieces in the movie “E.T.” Mars, Incorporated had been approached for the film, but their executives found E.T. so ugly they were afraid of frightening children. Much to their chagrin, the success of the movie showed that frightened children can be comforted by Reese’s Pieces.
Up until last year, Britain had a ban on product placement on television. British broadcasting had been resistant to product placement for fear of offending viewers. Setting the standard was the BBC that believed program was best when not cluttered with commercial interests. Critics were afraid that the relaxation would open the floodgates for American style brand promotion and would have an adverse effect on the viewing experience.
But in February of 2011, ITV’s This Morning became the first British television show to feature product placement by featuring a coffeemachine. The cappuccino machine became a regular fixture on the set of the show hosted by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield. Still not quite comfortable with the concept, the British show had to put a “P” in the corner of the screen to warn viewrs that a product plcement was taking place.
The cost for Nescafe to have the Dolce Gusto espresso maker appear on This Morning was reportedly £100,000, that’s roughly $150,000 in U.S. dollars. The machine appeared in the studio kitchen, behind Chef Phil Vickery’s head. Reportedly, viewers couldn’t make out the name on the machine.
Studies showed that viewer response was mostly positive with some 30% saying they were likely to buy a coffee maker in the next year. Nearly 40% of the viewers said that their interest in that particular coffee maker increased because of the product placement.
More than a year later, it appears that product placement on British television is more commonplace. So much so that an uncommon man appeared to make an endorsement.
In April, Jesus Christ was brought along to endorse the Magnifica bean-to-cup cappuccino coffee maker. The coffee maker was set to play a starring role in ITV1’s next talent show, which was a Saturday night search for the lead in a new production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Andrew Lloyd Webber was heading up the panel of judges.
Sir Tim Rice, the lyricist of the hit musical called the show tasteless and tacky and said that it would be “ill-advised to have people voting for who should be Jesus.”
Director of Mediawatch UK, Vivienne Pattison said that "It shows that with product placement, anything goes. The purpose isn't to make better programs for viewers but to deliver viewers to advertisers."
But unlike the Nescafe placement on This Morning, ITV said the Magnifica was a “prop placement” not a “product placement” since the manufacturer had not paid to have the machine used during the series.
While coffee makers aren’t the only stars, product placement continues on British television. A recent deal between one of Britain’s best loved soap operas and the Welcome to Yorkshire Tourism agency calls for product placement in the show Emmerdale.


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