Integrated Social Marketing

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This summer has seen an unprecedented amount of Green at the movie theaters. No really! I am not joking. Now I am sure that you have heard enough about the environment and how we all need to do our part. Even I am getting a little annoyed (a little but not a lot). But this summer I saw something that I was a little encouraged by --- wait for it --- integrated product placement. Or at least the next incarnation, integrated social marketing placement. First there are a couple of concepts that we need to review.

You see there is this thing called social marketing, basically taking all the evils of marketing and putting it towards good. Remember when you were a kid and you saw all those “this is your brain on drugs” commercials? Or all those “don’t drink and drive” commercials? That’s it! That’s using marketing for the purposes of advancing a positive social change.

Now, there is this thing called product placement. It happens when you are watching a television show or a movie and BAM the main actor is drinking Pepsi, or everyone is using a Mac. That’s product placement. It happens because people are sick of watching commercials and they hate having to hear about how great a product is. So if you can slide your product into the show than you have an advantage.

But even product placement is getting a little old, people don’t like the clumsy addition of a product into a show. Think about 24 where the Ford SUVs always perform and are never into crippling accidents. It’s kind of a little too fake, right? So here comes integrated product placement. Basically it is the weaving of a product right into the plot line of a movie or television show so that it seems seamless. The Office did an episode about the ipod, except that the plot was about Michael giving an ipod as a gift. Or 30 Rock which is a spoof-like parody a product placement so that it is actually integrated.

Integrated product placement ideally wants to achieve the popularity sought after by products that become so famous that the brand name is mistaken for the product name. Yeah, like Kleenex or Popsicles or Coke. Some get so famous they become verbs like Hoover, Google, or Febreeze. If someone in a movie says something like “I don’t know what that is, let’s Google it”, then integrated product placement has won the day.

So why am I heralding the use of such a viral form of advertising? Well, think back to the start of this entry when I said movies this year and too much ‘green’. I certainly don’t want to overload people with how important the environment is. Every time I mention ‘green’ I see some of my friends cringle a little and say “Oh great, here we go again. When is the environment not in trouble?” People are starting to suffer from Green fatigue.

So here comes our saviour, marketing. By using environmental issues as the background for movie plots we avoid green fatigue and embrace the green-stream (or green as main stream). Think about some of the movies that you saw this summer. WALL-E, a cute robot commissioned to clean up a post apocalyptic planet Earth after humans went too far and trashed the place. What about The Day the Earth Stood Still? Aliens come to planet Earth and decide to get rid of humans in the hopes of saving the planet. Geez, even the New Bond movie featured a maniacal environment loving terrorist as the featured enemy. Baby it doesn’t get any better than this.

Gone are the days of Al Gore armed with a PowerPoint in a feature film about global warming. In are the days of future planetary destruction, enviro-warriors kicking ass, and friends knocking back brews talking about greener pastures. So, kick up your heels and watch the environmental literacy of the continent skyrocket, all thanks to our friends in Hollywood.

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