Product Placement Essay
The influence of tobacco product placement in American TV shows on the audience
The popularity and impact of traditional television advertising have been in decline in the recent years as a result of increased costs and competition. Product placement is a substitute for the traditional TV advertising. It has been used since the invention of the small screen. Product placement is gaining more and more popularity and at the same time has turned into a huge, profitable business for both the broadcasting companies and the producers. The result of this situation is that companies exercise control with their product to such extend that shows are rejected projection or the storyline is completely altered. It is true that broadcasting companies receive large payments for placing a certain product in a movie, but the possible predicaments are much more. If there is too much product placement in a show, or the advertising is too obvious, the audience will lose interest in it.
Product placement is not a new advertising strategy, but it has gained popularity through the new technological developments and in the last years it has become more noticeable as a common practice in TV shows. Nowadays, its effect is not so much on a subconscious level, but on the contrary - people do notice the brands displayed on the screen. The viewers associate with the characters from their favorite TV programs and that is the reason why they want to use the same brands as them. According to Bleicher and Heisinger (2008), in that way they are identifying themselves with the TV characters, feeling closer to them.
The restrictions on tobacco industry tighten more and more each day- no TV advertisement, smoking bans, bigger pictorial warnings and recently there are more restrictions on the use of tobacco products appearing on TV. Despite that fact, the tobacco industry is constantly growing and developing. The only tool that is not so strictly overlooked by the government, yet and that can be still used by the tobacco companies is the product placement on the small screen. It has a great impact on the audience even though without brand exposure. (Saffer& Chaloupka, 1999)
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the advantages of product placement of tobacco in the American TV shows, to compare it to the ordinary advertisement tools, and to investigate if it can be a good replacement. The growing restrictions and sanctions on smoking during TV time are to be presented and thoroughly examined. The current study is challenging and appealing due to the high public interest and the limited number of studies and papers conducted in this field and will be used to draw some final conclusions.
The focus of the following study is on the influence of tobacco product placement on the audience of the American shows. The survey will observe if smoking in TV shows makes people smoke more and whether tobacco placement should be restricted or banned at all. There are different studies conducted in the area, but very few present results that are not ambiguous and that can lead to general and final conclusions on the topic.
Another purpose of the study is to present valid results that will support or refuse the public opinion about tobacco use on TV. The answers to these questions will be of great use for our society, moreover the outcomes of this thesis can be easily applied to other industries different than tobacco to alter and improve their marketing strategies. The research and its outcomes will not only be useful to the public, but also to the TV producers fighting over TV ratings and tobacco companies.
The topic of the current study was chosen, because of multiple reasons. The matter of the subject is pressing and often spoken of in society by people working in the TV business or by government officials. The debates on the topic are intriguing due to the extreme opposite opinions of the parties participating.
Another reason for choosing the topic is the high interest in following the development and evolution of American TV shows. The ban on tobacco on Television is considered by some as violating the freedom of speech. The producers of the TV programs have to be careful to alter their stories to avoid smoking scenes. Many shows may lose their ratings or even worse may have to be removed from the air. People enjoy watching everyday life stories, so they can associate with the character. That will be difficult to happen if everyday things such as smoking cannot be displayed on TV.
On the one hand, banning the exposure of tobacco products will change the movie industry for ever. On the other hand, the exposure of minors to violence, drug abuse and excessive smoking is a serious problem and is desired by no one.
The audience intended for this research mainly is supposed to consist of scholars interested in the ways to measure the effectiveness of the placement of tobacco products in TV shows. The viewers of these TV shows will be interviewed and will be subjects to different field experiments, their perception and awareness of the product placement will be measured and described. However, as mentioned previously, the results will be of great use to all the parties involved in the tobacco business, its marketing and the TV shows managers. (Galician, 2004)
The writer’s point of view on the subject is certain. There should be various restrictions on tobacco products displayed on TV. The use of tobacco in TV shows should be also controlled. Different aspects, such as nature of the TV show, air time, audience and many more should be taken into account. The placement of tobacco in TV programs should not be banned, because then storylines and storytellers will be affected, as well as the viewers. Turning the tobacco into a forbidden topic, may have a negative result and encourage people to get involved, to object and protest against these restrictions. As a result, there is not an easy solution to this complex problem.
In the world of Television and Media, there are so many available channels to the viewers that many run away from the traditional TV advertisement, turning into real channel surfers. In that line of thought, placing a product in the TV shows, instead of placing it in the traditional commercial, increases the number of people viewing it and paying attention to it. (Galician, 2004)
The choice of TV shows instead of movies to conduct this research is due to the fact, that programs on the small screen attract a bigger audience and it is easier to estimate how many people viewed the episode with product placement and it is also easier to make the product irreplaceable part of the storyline. The problem of character smoking in TV shows has been a hot topic for quite long. There are constant debates and studies carried out to prove or disprove the impact of tobacco product placement on the audience. The purpose of the research is to investigate and to measure the impact of the tobacco products on the different viewer groups and their positive or negative attitude to such exposure. It will be explored in details which age groups are addressed by these placements, which ones are more prone to these messages and what messages are they conveying. Product placement for that kind of products will be compared to traditional advertising to point out its advantages and disadvantages and its public acceptance. (Mekemson & C.A., 2002)
The tobacco companies have a long practice of sponsoring tobacco smoking in movie productions, because they have understood its high efficiency. Although, they claim to have stopped that practice, tobacco marketing has been increasing, but becoming very difficult and innovative, developing new more complex marketing methods to defeat the restrictions and to deal with the increasing public concern about the dangers of smoking. (Glantz, Slade, & A., 1996)
Traditional TV advertising has been in decline for the last years, however, product placement even though not a new marketing tool is gaining popularity and its uses tremendously increase. The TV shows business and product placement in TV shows has become a huge and very profitable practice, beneficial for all parties included, but the viewers. The media including movies, TV shows, magazines and internet form the everyday environment of young individual and thus have a great impact on their way of thinking. These media tools more frequently refer to tobacco products and in that way send pro-smoking messages to the public.
The tobacco industry and the motion picture industry have a long history of coexisting and working together. The product placement of tobacco is used to promote tolerance towards smoking and to increase its desirability among youngsters. The restriction on tobacco advertising mainly limits the print advertisements and promoting to children, but new means of marketing are constantly been researched and developed to balance its marketing strategies and their restrictions.
Unless more restrictions are introduced to tobacco placement in TV shows, that indirect advertising tool will remain the most powerful way to promote tobacco products, increasing the revenues of tobacco companies and endangering the public health. (Angus & Hastings, 2008)
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