Thursday, September 15, 2005

Placements in placements.

The more the merrier...

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Products placed in other products' ads ; Songs in Starbucks commercials get boost

Theresa Howard
687 words
12 September 2005
USA Today
FINAL
B.5
English
© 2005 USA Today.

NEW YORK -- Product placement, already common in TV programs, movies and video games, now is being seen in yet another medium: commercials. Marketers are pushing products in other marketers' commercials.

Consider:

*Music and iPods. Getting a new release featured in the snappy, dancing ads for the hot Apple digital music player is much sought after by music labels, and for good reason. Pop songs featured in the commercials quickly became popular downloads at iTunes.

*Mazda and NBC. The car company helped foot NBC's bill to hype new shows for the fall season with the network's "First Look" campaign. Mazda cars star in promos for the NBC shows.

*Carl's Jr. and more. Whether it's a Bentley getting a sultry wash by Paris Hilton or the movie trailers, video game promotions and Motorola cellphone ads at the Carl's Jr. website, cross-promotions are hot with the burger brand.

The notion of product placement in commercials for other products is a natural evolution in a market already saturated with commercial messages, says an alarmed Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert.

"Now that ad creep has crept into every nook and cranny of our culture, advertisers are looking to colonize their own commercials with more commercial messages," he says. "It's part of the downward spiral of commercial culture."

Marketers, however, see it as a smart way to leverage promotional spending bucks. That's what Warner Music Group had in mind when it landed its recording star Michael Buble in an ad for ready-to-drink Frappuccino, distributed by Pepsi and marketed jointly by Pepsi and Starbucks.

The ad, by Fallon, shows an office worker stressed out by colleagues, computers and tasks. She feels refreshed when she pops open a bottle of Frappuccino and is swept away by Buble, who appears in the ad, and his music.

The placement was orchestrated to coincide with release of Buble's second CD, Feeling Good. Starbucks stores sold an exclusive version of the album, including Come Fly with Me, the song in the Frappuccino ad, as a bonus track. The song was a track on his first album, but Warner music marketer Tami Rittberg thought consumers who bought the CD in Starbucks stores would want the song on the new CD. And they did.

"It sold like gangbusters," says Rittberg, vice president, strategic marketing for WMG's Warner Bros., Reprise and Sire Records labels.

Rittberg says the combination of the Frappuccino TV ad on the air and availability of the CD at Starbucks stores resulted some weeks in nearly half of Buble's CD sales being made at the coffee chain.

The ad also boosted sales of Frappuccino. Sister brand DoubleShot, an espresso and cream drink, also had success with a musical ad. In it, Hank starts his day with a can of DoubleShot. Fans help him throughout his day by chanting "Hank" to the tune of the Gary Glitter stadium anthem, Rock 'n' Roll Part Two.

Sales for both products climbed 20% over the summer, says Tracey Doucette, vice president and general manager of North American Coffee Partnership, the Pepsi-Starbucks joint venture.

"We've historically found that music is a great way to connect to consumers," she says.

"Frappucino is a smooth rejuvenating break in the day. Who better to take a break with than Michael Buble? In the case of Gary Glitter, that's motivating music. The music matched perfectly with the audiences."

The ads for the two products were a match with consumers surveyed by Ad Track, USA TODAY's weekly poll.

Of those familiar with the ads, 26% like the ads "a lot," vs. the Ad Track average of 21%. Despite the sales results, fewer rated the ads "very effective," with 14% giving them the top mark, vs. the 21% average.

"The advertising is entertaining," Doucette says. "It delivers the message and connects with consumers and their lives."

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