The history of product placement before the music video, part 2

September 7, 2017By

The availability of television for product placement to advertise is more useful than film due to one simple reason. Nearly everyone has access to a television. In 2011 it was estimated that 96.7% of homes in the USA totaling 114,200,000 households had access to a television set. In the UK in 2013 the figure was slightly lower with 95% accounting for 26,000,000 households.

Television – The History

These numbers show how the television can be exploited to sell marketing ideas. The figures have steadily risen since TV started to become popular on a national scale just before the start of the Second World War. In the USA it wasn’t until the autumn of 1948 before ABC, CBS, NBC and the now disbanded Dumont Television Network started to schedule regular shows. The period up to 1959 became known as the Golden Age as the shows became more regular and the television sets became more affordable.

Across the Atlantic in the UK the television service started even earlier with the BBC starting in 1936. The BBC grew from being primarily a radio station and sadly the television service closed during the war years. After the war the BBC was joined by the independent authority ITV and in 1955 4,500,000 households out of 14,000,000 owned a TV license.

The radio was the early priority of the BBC

There is so no doubt that product placement is conducted differently in the USA than it does in the UK. The UK is controlled by the communications regulator Ofcom which gives guidelines to the television authorities of which restrictions should be adhered to. Product Placement does occur but not to the same extent that it does in the USA.

USA television and product placement

Product Placement in American Television is loud, brash and out there. Perhaps the series with the greatest reliance on product placement has been the Sex in The City. The Actress who plays Carrie, Sarah Jessica Parker is also the show’s producer, and she has admitted that they would never have been able to finance the making of the show without product placement.

This high fashion show featured Manolo Blahniks shoes in 16 episodes of the 96 that were recorded. But it didn’t end there with Jimmy Choo’s also being aired. Magnolia Bakery was also shown with Carrie eating a cup cake there and this led to the Bakery’s subsequent expansion. However the biggest product placement on the show was for Absolut Vodka with the characters creating an advert for the product.

Sex in the City’s Carrie in her Manola Blahniks shoes

One of the longest running comedy shows on American television was Seinfeld and they were not adverse to Product Placement. The show approached M&S and lifesavers before Junior Mint agreed to appear in an episode where a mint would be dropped into the open chest during surgery.

This was not the only example of product placement on the show. Over the year Bosco, Snapple, Drake’s Coffee Cakes and Hennigans were all mentioned in certain episodes and this list is not comprehensive.

But Sex in the CIty and Seinfeld do not stand alone in making the most of product placement. In fact it is quite a task to find an American sit com that is not influenced by this concept. With it playing such a major role in raising funds in television and film, it is hardly surprising that it has now become a major player in music videos.

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