T344 Programming Strategies
December 5, 2012
Brand Integration in Television
Have you ever noticed the kind of phone Curt from Glee is always using to talk or text? How about in Modern Family, Phil Dunphy’s obsession with his tablet, what kind of tablet is it? If you can answer either of these questions, then the advertising and programming team that made these intentional decisions did a successful job of integrating the Apple brand into the content of the programs. Brand integration is no stranger to the media industry and dates to way back when programs were tied to one specific sponsor and sometimes even had the sponsor’s name tied to the title of the program. Even the concept of a “soap opera” is an example of brand integration. Sponsors of dramatic daytime television programs were sponsored by a soap companies and were quickly associated with the soap sponsors. Modern brand integration comes in the form of named sponsorship, such as McDonald’s All-American Games, as well as product placement and branded entertainment, which we will further examine. Product placement is a non-traditional advertising technique used by companies to subtly promote a certain product or brand (Busniessdictionary.com). This type of brand integration takes place when an advertiser and programmer enter into a paid agreement, which allows the advertiser’s brand logo or product to be featured in the foreground or background of a program. Product placements are very commonplace in television programming and especially in reality television programming where programmers have no problem integrating the brand of their sponsors. Branded entertainment, like product placement, is also a non-traditional advertising technique where a paid agreement between the advertiser and the programmer allows for the brand or product to be weaved into the story line of the content. A branded entertainment agreement, when done correctly, will feature a brand or product that is relevant to the story line of the program and is used by characters that would use the product under normal circumstances. Brand integration in either form mentioned above attempts to combat the complete zapping of commercials, which has become a reality with the advent of various multimedia opportunities and DVRs in recent years (Biggs 2011). Now, however, advertisers are pushing their way into content far more aggressively than ever before. This is chiefly because they doubt the effectiveness of 30-second spot advertisements (The Economist). It is now imperative for advertisers to find more original ways to keep reaching more eyeballs. Brand integration within the content of a program has proved to be successful in some of viewers’ favorite television programs. Advertisers hope that by integrating the brand within the content the perception of it will seem less intrusive than traditional advertisements and will lead to a positive perception of that brand or product. The problem, which has presented itself, is that television is becoming a medium of advertisement through and through. The public can no longer enjoy a television program without an advertiser attempting to generate buzz about their brand or product. Integration has given ample opportunity to advertisers, but over integration can be a real eyesore for viewers. The drawbacks associated with television brand integration deal mostly with advertising clutter and the inability to integrate the brand logically and correctly. Additionally, in some cases, industry watchers believe that brand integration is ruining the integrity of television programming. Some have said integrations can be deceptive, illogical, and sometimes unethical. Moreover, some television programs feature so much “clutter” that the value to any one brand may be limited (The Economist). On the positive side, the explosion of brand integration in television programs has driven media professionals to conjure some of the most creative ways to...