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Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

When the big summer blockbusters hit, the average citizen is as unlikely to notice as if an atomic bomb went off in their living room. Typically the movie is accompanied by promotions by fast food, candy, soda, beer, chips, car companies, cellular phone carriers, vacation destinations… the list goes on and on. And on the same token, the average citizen is unlikely to question these pairings, as they’ve become an accepted and expected part of the moviegoing experience. Do these huge movies really need product placements in order to make their money, when their box office sales often run into the hundreds of millions?

An article on Advertising Age today discusses this topic, suggesting that while the movie benefits from the increased exposure created by the hype, the real winner is the advertiser who benefits from being associated with the movie, as well as the “event” surrounding it. Who doesn’t want to be part of the biggest party on the block?

So my question is, who decides which products are right for a movie? There are the legends of product placement that often happen by accident – E.T. and Reese’s Pieces, for example – but lately it seems to be pretty random. Apparently Dr. Pepper is going to be one of the big advertisers for the new Indiana Jones movie. But I can’t think of a moment in the previous three movies where Indiana Jones said anything about preferring that particular brand of cola. So it becomes a forced association, along with M&Ms, Expedia, Kraft Lunchables and Burger King. At least BK is giving their Whopper the nickname “Indy” for the time being, making it seem at least somewhat connected. 

It seems the bottom line is that the big guys talking about each other gets the word out, and nobody really cares if it’s relevant. You think Indiana Jones, maybe Dr. Pepper pops into your head (pops… get it?) and you’d be more likely to buy a super-grande combo Dr. Pepper drink at the concession counter on your way to see the movie. Or maybe not. But it must work, or it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

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The recent 3-hour closure of Starbucks stores around the country was intended to show consumers that the chain was dedicated to improving the quality of their beverages. As a PR effort, one would think it was highly successful, since news and media picked up the story and made sure that everyone knew they wouldn’t be able to get their grande skinny decaf iced frappucinos for those three hours, and that desperate caffeine addicts would have to get their fix elsewhere. However, the message faltered in that only about 50% of people surveyed knew WHY the stores were going to be closed. This grand gesture of selfless quality enhancement went right over the heads of about half of their consumers. Rather than try to make a spectacle of the event, they might as well have held the training during non-business hours and saved themselves 3 hours worth of business income.

I wouldn’t call it bad enough to be a failure, but when it comes to PR, the message has to be absolutely clear, because people are way too impatient to read more than a few words.

Found on Ad Age.

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