Product placement: Does it affect your buying decisions?


Way back in 2013, in my first article with Pocketnow, I talked about how Microsoft could climb to the lofty heights of 10% market share.  One of the ways I suggested was to advertise and I cited Microsoft’s already-widespread campaign of product placement. Indeed, since that time and going up to this season finale of Hawaii Five-0, Microsoft has been the phone of choice for Alex O’Loughlin, Grace Park, and their law-enforcing (and sometimes law-breaking) compatriots. So Microsoft must be doing well, huh?

Well, I guess that is the difference between enjoying the Windows Phone experience, and being paid to pretend to utilize the interface, unless of course you’re Matthew McConaSpellcheck. Because despite Microsoft’s presence on numerous TV shows up and down the dial, Microsoft is still dead last (and some might argue just plain dead) compared to the likes of its rivals. So then I guess the question that needs to be asked is, does product placement work?

Golf clap. Bonus points if you know the movie.

Golf clap. Bonus points if you know the movie.

Of course it works

I mean, on the one hand, it must. I’m speaking of course from a philosophical standpoint of course – product placement must work or companies wouldn’t pay for the privilege of watching James Caan send a text message on Windows 10 Mobile’s distinctive interface. But everything from cans of coke to tubes of deodorant to cars are all shot as seemingly everyday objects to fill in a scene because companies want their products to be seen.

So is Microsoft failing where numerous other companies have succeeded? If so, it’s through no fault of its own. Product placement is actually very valuable from a mobile device standpoint, because it’s a cool way to show off a device’s capabilities. webOS famously incorporated Touch to Share into a Dr. Dre and Eminem video. In fact, that is the only reason I ever watched that video. So, in some ways, reverse product placement worked for Dr. Dre and Eminem because I can assure you there is no way in God’s green Earth that I watch that video for any other reason.

More recently, Katy Perry’s video for Roar features a Lumia 1020 prominently displayed, with selfie after selfie being taken by Katy’s ill-fated boyfriend on that fateful trip. Ironically the most notable feature of that phone involved the camera on the other side, but I guess it’s hard to explain how RAW photos are useful between lines like “I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.” Katy Perry has been known to feature Lumias in many of her videos. Again, not really helping Microsoft.

Pocketnow-iOS-Devices-TVShowsStop telephoning me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e

But let’s move past that. Product placement works – that point is not arguable. Companies wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. From gigantic Coke signs that Superman gets thrown through in a movie, or a Virgin Mobile phone that Lady Gaga uses – one of the only phones she uses in a song/nine-minute video appropriately called “Telephone”.

So that’s three prominent examples of phones and carriers being used in a product placement scenario, and I’m not sure any of them really did a whole lot to help their respective brands. I mean, product placement is more effective when done via the long con (for lack of a better term). So perhaps one sighting on Hawaii Five-0 won’t do the job by itself, but when you see a Lumia on five different CBS shows, plus you see the commercial with the couple at the dance recital, and then you see Katy Perry in a leopard skin mini-skirt, maybe then you decide you’ll be picking up one of those AT&T Lumia 1520’s that AT&T brought back to its lineup for…whatever reason. Or maybe you’ll watch a Lady Gaga video, get the unlocked Lumia 1520 and sign up for Virgin Mobile while drinking a diet coke? You just never know, or maybe you do, and that brings us to the point of the article.

Have you ever been influenced by product placement toward a smartphone purchase? Of course, by definition, product placement is supposed to be subtler than that, so most of you will answer no, down in the comments. But then you’ll start to think back to all those iPhones they used in House of Cards and maybe…just maybe…

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!