Product placement

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Product placement (Engl. Product placement or embedded marketing ), also advertising integration called, is the targeted product communication in different media . It is an instrument of communication policy in marketing and is used in film and television productions, in radio, magazines, newspapers, music, comics, video games , video clips and other media. As a rule, cash or material donations are made for the placement of products.

Product placement is the integration of the name, the product, the packaging, the service or the company logo of a branded product or a company in the mass media in exchange for money / benefits , without the recipient perceiving this as annoying. Product placement is permitted in Germany as a so-called “product provision”, in which companies provide their products for film productions free of charge (for example cars or software). Unauthorized product placement is called surreptitious advertising in German-speaking countries ; it is characterized by the fact that it is not dramatically necessary to use the respective product or to put the brand in the picture.


During the 1930s, film producers began to use product placement to cover part of their production costs. The medium of film first opened up to the advertising industry with the film It Pays To Advertise. In the 1940s and 1950s, product placement became more or less silent. This new type of advertising first made its breakthrough in 1967 with the film The Graduation Examination . In addition to Dustin Hoffman in the lead role, the red Alfa Romeo Spider was in the center of the action. The marketing tool matured more and more in the 1980s and 1990s . An example of successful product placement from this period is Reese's Pieces Candy in Steven Spielberg's film ET - The Extra-Terrestrial from 1982. Elliot, one of the protagonists in this film, lures the aliens with this candy. Within a month of the film's release, the US chocolate manufacturer Hershey's posted sales increases of between 60 and 75 percent. This marketing instrument thus led to a significant increase in sales. In addition to ET , the 1983 film Risky Business is another example of successful product placement. The Wayfarer sunglasses model featured in this film brought the manufacturer Ray Ban an 83 percent increase in sales. The 1986 film Fire and Ice by the ski fashion manufacturer Bogner is an example of a film production whose overall concept is aimed from the outset on the most attractive possible product placement.

The 1984 James Bond film Facing Death with Roger Moore advertised Seiko watches, Bogner laundry, Louis Vuitton suitcases, Bollinger champagne and Renault cars (for $ 100,000). The importance of product placement in financing films is shown by the example of the James Bond film Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan (2002), which earned around 120 million euros through product placement alone. About 20 brands were on display, including 7-Up lemonade, Finlandia vodka, Bollinger champagne and Ford with its brands Aston Martin , Jaguar and Thunderbird as well as Range Rover .

The product placement was taken to extremes by the filmmaker Morgan Spurlock , who financed the entire production costs of his 2011 documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold exclusively through the advertising placement of brands and products - at the same time the mechanisms of marketing and advertising in film production are the topic of this documentation.

An association for product placement has existed since July 2012, promoting the interests of its members and the topic of product placement in German-speaking countries.

Types of placement

The extent to which the brand is integrated ranges from placement as a prop, whereby the brand is clearly visible to the viewer, to verbal product placement , i.e. H. the naming of the brand in the film scene.

On set placement

With on set placement, the product is not important for the course of action. It only occurs marginally and for a short period of time. For example, a product is only held briefly in the camera or a certain car drives past, which is why the viewer is not aware of it. This is why the on-set placement is also called "silent placement"; it is the most common type of product placement.

Creative placement

With creative placement, small stories are developed for the products and seamlessly integrated into the action. The actors actively use the products and give a positive rating if possible (so-called endorsement ). For example, the hero uses a certain make of laptop or drives a certain make of car . Due to the good integration of the product into the action, the placement is less noticeable to the viewer.

Generic placement

The brand logo of the placed product can not be seen here, nor is the manufacturer named. Only a certain type of product is shown or mentioned. This placement is particularly interesting for quasi-monopolists or for associations, as not a specific product is advertised.

Title patronage

Title patronage is a special form of name sponsorship. The placement takes place through the integration of a brand name in the title of a film production or television program (e.g. one- two pass on DSF / Sport1 , which at times had the subtitle Der Krombacher Fußballstammtisch ).

Information placement

This is where certain information is placed for the customer as editorial contributions in information programs, magazines or on the Internet. You supply an editorial office with information about a certain product in order to familiarize the customer with it. This is often seen as “bought” reporting. This so-called topic placement is prohibited by Section 7 (7) sentence 1 of the State Broadcasting Treaty.

Corporate placement

Here, for example, the company is named directly or a logo is shown. Sometimes a company is given the opportunity to present its corporate culture and its advantages such as customer proximity and service in films . One example is the film Cast Away - in which case it is questionable whether the damage to the image is not greater than the increased awareness of the FedEx brand .

Further examples are:

Political opinion formation

Interest groups and political groups use the media to infiltrate people with their ideas. A prominent example of this is the film Top Gun - They Fear Neither Death nor the Devil , which was heavily supported by the United States Navy during its production in 1986 , which earned it the reputation of being a commercial for the US Department of Defense at its cinema premiere.

In Germany, the New Social Market Economy initiative plays a significant role here. In addition to providing experts for political magazines and discussion groups, messages were also placed in entertainment programs such as seven episodes of the ARD series Marienhof . The company Propaganda GEM , which specializes in product placement, is, according to the Economist, in talks with several European governments who want to promote certain behaviors such as environmentally friendly behavior, safer sex or graduation through changes in the plot of the programs concerned. Insofar as "contributions in the service of the public" are made free of charge, this is covered by Section 7 (9) sentence 2 RStV. It is assumed that goals in the general interest are not pursued, but are not for the benefit of the individual or for groups. For contributions that are oriented towards the common good, you can even leave your own airtime. Apart from that, a ban on political, ideological or religious advertising, subject to a fine, applies in German broadcasting law (Section 7 (9) sentence 1, Section 49 (1) sentence 1 no. 10 RStV).

See also: Propaganda and Propaganda Film

Music placement

Music placement takes on a special role, as music is an integral part of film dramaturgy and is hardly perceived as product placement in documentary films either. Music publishers like to try this way to initiate a second or third exploitation of old titles. Often an attempt is made to make unknown artists better known. This can be seen, for example, in teen series such as Dawson's Creek or some films by director Til Schweiger , where striking scenes are accompanied by a song by (mostly) lesser-known artists and the soundtrack for the series / film was distributed at the same time. In return, the music often serves as an incentive to consume the film. The emergence of cross-media entertainment groups has intensified the development, especially in recent years.

Country or Landside Placement

Placement is also suitable for regions and countries. Good examples are New Zealand or Prague . After the filming of The Lord of the Rings , many fans travel to the locations. There was a real film boom in Prague after Mission: Impossible was shot there. Even if cities and regions can promote their film industry in this way, this placement is much more important for the tourism industry .

Most of the film adaptations of the Rosamunde Pilcher novels are set in Cornwall . This has triggered a real tourism boom, so that Rosamunde Pilcher and ZDF chief editor Claus Beling received the British Tourism Award in 2002 for these services to tourism in Great Britain.

Since the late 1980s, the series Die Schwarzwaldklinik has drawn tourists to Glottertal ; the television series Dr. From 2003, Kleist brought increasing numbers of tourists to the city of Eisenach .

Celebrity placement

Manufacturers of lifestyle products such as watches, cars or designer clothing are increasingly giving their products to actors, athletes or other celebrities for free or even for a fee. In return, the recipients undertake to use the products received in their private lives. In the context of home stories, but also through paparazzi photos, the manufacturers hope to gain additional credibility for their products. Well-known examples of such collaborations are the athlete Michael Schumacher , who u. a. works with the fashion manufacturer Hugo Boss , the actor Jürgen Vogel ( Wrangler jeans ) or the boxer Axel Schulz ( Fackelmann ).

An expression of the increasing professionalization of the area is the establishment of several PR agencies that mediate exclusively between manufacturers and celebrities.

Purchased newspaper articles, TV reports, etc. Ä.

In many countries it is possible to buy entire newspaper articles, magazine articles or articles on television. The contributions are created or elaborated by the marketing department of a company. The newspaper, magazine, television station, etc. distribute the article without indicating that it is advertising, which increases consumer acceptance for the advertising. Many media z. B. Newspapers have economic problems so this is a way of making money. In Eastern Europe, this type of advertising is called jeans, as allegedly a positive contribution to a jeans brand was broadcast on Russian state television in the 1990s. As a result, all editorial staff received new jeans from this brand.

Forms of implementation of the placement

Verbal placement

The product or brand is built into or even highlighted in the film dialog. The verbal placement often seems clumsy, as this form of advertising speaks to the viewer very directly. One of the best-known examples of verbal product placement in film is the Whiskas placement in the James Bond film In the Face of Death . Another example is Mission Impossible, where a dialogue literally says: “[…] my beautiful Bulgari chain […]” or the dialogue “Beautiful watch - Rolex? No, Omega ”in the James Bond film Casino Royale .

This is also discussed in the film The Truman Show , where constant product placement is already part of the basic concept. This is also noticed by the suspicious, involuntary leading actor at some point when his film wife shows an instant cocoa powder in a very conspicuous manner and recites an equally conspicuous advertising slogan.

Visual placement

The verbal placement is the visual placement over. The brand is not mentioned here, only shown.

Combined placement

Verbal placement and visual placement are combined.

Legal situation

With effect from April 1, 2010, the 13th amendment to the State Broadcasting Treaty came into force. With the current version, legal conditions for product placement on television were drawn up for the first time in Germany. This creates framework conditions for all three media channels.

Product placement has always been allowed in the cinema. Producers and directors are free to choose the framework in which they work with representatives of the advertising industry.

In television, the instrument is subject to detailed regulation in the State Broadcasting Treaty. This ties in with the EU directive on audiovisual media services. In essence, there is a ban on product placement. At the same time, however, the instrument is considered admissible for individual forms of broadcast. These are fictional programs (movies, TV series, TV films), sports films and light entertainment programs. In these formats, product placement may be paid for on private broadcasters, and props may be provided on public broadcasters for free. There is a ban on product placement for news programs, children's programs, advice and consumer programs as well as programs on current political events. In addition to this definition of exceptions in which the instrument is permitted, there are other framework conditions. In order to maintain the transparency requirement, programs in which there are product placements must be marked. This is done by arrangement between ARD, ZDF and the state media authorities, both by means of a notice at the beginning and end of the program or the commercial breaks that interrupt them, as well as by displaying a white “P” in the upper right corner of the screen. Likewise, the general conditions are that the products shown may not be shown in advertising form and that the editorial freedom of the broadcasters remains unaffected.

In the context of these regulations, the distinction between light entertainment programs and infotainment formats is still unclear. It was also left open how cinema films or television series are to be treated that are bought by broadcasters on the international film market. The only requirement here is that the broadcasters must check with reasonable effort whether product placements are included. In view of the widespread use of the instrument, particularly in the US market, from which extensive series and cinema films are imported, it is not yet possible to assess how the transparency rules will be implemented.

For telemedia on demand with television-like content, the provisions on labeling and the display intensity of product placements (Section 7 (7) RStV) apply as for broadcasting (“corresponding”: Section 58 (3) sentence 1 RStV). In addition, the provisions of the Telemedia Act apply on the Internet, which were also adopted by the State Broadcasting Treaty (Section 58 (1) RStV). Only the transparency requirement is pointed out here.

Liberalization by the European Union

After a process lasting several years, the European Union revised the EU Audiovisual Media Directive. It was finally discussed in the European Parliament at the end of November 2007 and came into force on December 19, 2007. The countries of the Union were required to transpose the directive into national law by the end of 2009.

With regard to product placement, which was included in the directive for the first time, the following was regulated: The instrument is generally prohibited. The exceptions are described in a positive list. For cinema films, television series and films, sports programs and light entertainment programs, product placement is permitted for a fee. In the other programs, product placement is only allowed as free props. There are absolute bans on children's programs, tobacco products and prescription drugs. The conditions for product placement include: maintaining editorial independence, the prohibition of a direct purchase request and excessive exposure as well as the reference to product placement at the beginning and / or at the end of a program, or when it is interrupted.

Avoidance of product placement

Due to the legal situation, but also in order not to discredit the reputation of a film production, fantasy products are increasingly being used as props. Some advertising agencies have specialized in designing appropriate packaging that imitates the common design features of competing brands in a certain product group, so that, for example, muesli boxes and detergent boxes can be recognized and distinguished from each other even without known product names.

Examples of fictional companies in films and series are Finder-Spyder , ACME , Oceanic Airlines or Morley Cigarettes .

Examples of product placement in German productions

  • The ZDF show Wetten, dass ..? came under fire when it became known that its presenter at the time, Thomas Gottschalk, had founded the Dolce Media company with his brother specifically for the purpose of marketing product placements within the programs on public television . As a result, several contracts for product placement campaigns were concluded and implemented with well-known companies.
  • In the first episodes of the WDR series Lindenstrasse , there was massive surreptitious advertising. The Nesquik placement is still unforgettable after more than 20 years. Since the resulting press scandal, care has been taken to ensure that no more product placement takes place.
  • In the ZDF series Sabine! was advertised for wine from Rhineland-Palatinate and for the VW Beetle.
  • In the ARD series Marienhof there was surreptitious advertising for ten years, for example ten weeks for the travel agency L'tur. The participating company H. + S. tried in advance to prevent the research of the epd and its journalist Volker Lilienthal by legal means.
  • The film Fack ju Göhte (2013) was partly financed through product placements. The most noticeable placement is a scene at the school snack machine. The entire machine is filled with different “PICK UP!” Variations from the Bahlsen company , whereby the “PICK UP!” Text is clearly legible. Other partners were Samsung, BMW and McDonald's.

Product Placement Award (APP)

With the changed legal situation in Germany, product placement as a special form of advertising has meanwhile become socially acceptable in Germany. This development can be seen in the award of the first Product Placement Award (APP). It was awarded for the first time at the 9th Product Placement Congress in Stuttgart 2011 by a jury made up of several industry experts. These came from science (university professors Iris Ramme and Oliver Castendyk) as well as from business (Johannes Schultz from BMW ), the placement agencies themselves (Mathias M. Alefeld from MA Media) and from the editorial area, ( Jürgen Doetz ) .

They justified the decision to be awarded on the basis of several criteria:

  • Extraordinary creativity and originality,
  • good dramaturgical integration;
  • the involvement does not intervene in the action, but is part of the action;
  • excellent cross marketing .

The first place went to McCafé's placement in the Sat.1 production Anna und die Liebe . The placement of ice watch in Germany's Next Topmodel on ProSieben took second place. Both placements were implemented by SevenOne AdFactory, a subsidiary of ProSiebenSat.1 Media .


Advertising effect

Like most marketing measures, product placement leads to explicit and implicit advertising effects. Explicit effects can be observed directly and are usually indicated by higher recall values. They are closely related to consciousness . Implicit effects can be observed through a change in behavior - e.g. an increased purchase intention. They run completely in the subconscious . Implicit effects are much more relevant for purchasing decisions than explicit reactions.


The recall shows whether people can explicitly name the product after seeing it in the form of a product placement. Studies have shown a clear connection between product placements and a correspondingly high recall value.


Product placement can also lead to changes in people's attitudes towards the product or brand

Purchase intent

A large number of studies have shown that product placement can also lead to increased buying interest.

Subconscious effects

Product placement affects the audience or listener on a conscious and subconscious level. Studies have shown that there is no need for any explicit and conscious processing in order for subconscious effects to arise. For example, product placement can lead to the exclusion of competing brands from the consideration set of people - completely subconsciously. On the basis of these findings, it is hoped that product placements will be able to circumvent possible defensive reactions through their subliminal character.

Negative effects

Under certain circumstances, however, product placement can lead to no or even negative effects. This usually happens when the integration is too noticeable and is perceived as annoying by the target group.

Research Trivia

For companies that have integrated their products in upcoming blockbusters in the cinema, a relevant increase in share prices was observed between 10 days before and up to 3 weeks after publication.

Scientists showed children the film Kevin - Alone at Home , in which the Pepsi brand was integrated. After the film, the test subjects were allowed to get a drink before the official interview began. 67% of the children who saw the film chose Pepsi, whereas only 42% of the children in a control group chose this brand.

Brand placements can sometimes be more effective than classic advertising measures. One study found that participants were more inclined to place products on radio than traditional radio advertising. The test persons stated, among other things, that they found this product placement to be more harmonious.

Another study from the field of video games showed that test subjects who played a rather violent game recognized product placements significantly better than test subjects who played a game without violence. At the same time, these people rated the products significantly more negatively.


The better a product placement fits with the surrounding content, the more efficiently implicit effects (such as change of attitude or purchase intention) will be.

Audio vs visual

In a study it was found that test subjects who watched an episode of Seinfeld with different product placements (visual, audible only, audiovisual) were best able to remember audiovisual product placements; followed by purely visual placements. The style of the placement, which is the most effective, could not be clearly determined, since different results were obtained depending on the measurement variant, but audiovisual placements seem to be the most effective in general. In the event that the placement is only audible, it should also be ensured that it is implemented very prominently, as otherwise there is no explicit or implicit effect at all.

Attractiveness of the performers

Individuals tend to prefer brands that are paired with attractive faces over those that come with unattractive faces.


Product placement can be counterproductive if it is perceived as disruptive (typically with high repetition and high prominence). More implicit placements do not lead to any negative effects even with multiple (but moderate) repetitions.

Products that are closely interwoven with the plot of a film can usually be better named - as long as several products are not advertised at the same time. Basically, people can best remember placements that are part of the plot - followed by products that are not related to the story, but which are used by the main actors - followed by products that are only placed in the background.

Product placements seem to work better on large screens than small ones. In addition, products that are integrated in the first half of a movie tend to be remembered better than products that can be seen in the second half.


A high level of involvement with the supporting program makes it easier for people to recognize product placements. This can lead to positive, but also negative reactions. The same applies to a high level of product category involvement.

Culture area

In some cases, scientists have been able to identify clear differences between individual cultures or countries. For example, Australians, Austrians and Germans rate product placement much more critically and show less positive reactions than Americans or Indians. The same applies to Asian countries.


Children are generally more easily influenced by product placement than adults.


If the product is advertised by a person, stronger priming (psychological) effects become apparent if the person is the same gender as the target group. Women tend to be more easily influenced by product placement, but at the same time show stronger negative reactions to ethically questionable products (such as alcohol).

Success measurement

In order to measure the success of product placements, the parameters of the placement, such as recognizability, display duration or number of displays, are first recorded. This information is often used to determine the price of integration. The effectiveness is then determined using direct (for explicit memory effects) and indirect (for implicit memory effects) measurement methods.

Measurement of explicit memory

Explicit effects are measured using recall or recognition tests. People are asked which products they have perceived (free recall). This survey can also be supported, with the respondents being given further information, such as the product category. In recognition tests, the respondents are presented with a selection of products from which they have to select the ones that they recognize with regard to the film (or similar).

Measurement of implicit memory

Implicit effects are measured indirectly by observing behavior. This can be done by observing the consideration set or the purchasing behavior of test persons, measuring brain waves or using abstract indirect experiments such as word-addition tests. An implicit association test (IAT) is also suitable as a measurement tool.

Ethical discussion

Many people consider product placement to be ethically questionable because they believe that it is manipulating people against their will. Even if product placement is only perceived subconsciously, it is evaluated by the human brain. Thus, people cannot be influenced against their will. Many people also appreciate the fact that, for example, films appear more believable and realistic through real brands. In addition, scientists have found that product placement is ethically no different from other marketing activities.


The party Die PARTTEI , which was founded by the editors of the satirical magazine Titanic , took the surreptitious advertising scandal discussed in summer 2004 as an opportunity to auction off its statutory advertising spots for the Bundestag election as a space for more or less subtle surreptitious advertising. The low-cost airline company HLX was awarded the contract, and it was often shown in the spots - correspondingly satirically exaggerated. In fact, money never flowed into this matter.

Wayne and Garth, the main characters in Wayne's World , are also satirical . While they are discussing with their television producer Benjamin Kane that they would not advertise anything or anyone, the two of them hold various products in the camera and also recite some advertising slogans.


  • Marchand, André, Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, and Sabine Best (2015), “When James Bond Shows off His Omega: Does Product Placement Affect Its Media Host?” European Journal of Marketing , 49 (9/10), 1666–1685. link
  • Roland Bornemann: Administrative offenses in radio and telemedia. 4th edition. Bremen 2013, ISBN 978-3-86741-808-9 .
  • Christian Fuchs: It creeps quietly through my TV. Product placement and surreptitious advertising on public television. Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-89820-844-3 .
  • M. Graser / T. Stanley: Placement to Surge 25% in '06. In: Advertising Age. Vol. 77 (2006), H. 35, p. 6.
  • Pießkalla / Leitgeb: Product placements on television - surreptitious advertising without borders? In: Kommunikation & Recht 2005, p. 433 ff.
  • Alexandra Puff: Product Lacement. The legal aspects of product placement. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-4631-9 .
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  • Nadja Tata: Product placement in James Bond films. Saarbrücken 2006, ISBN 3-86550-440-X .
  • Stephan Leitgeb: Product Placement - constitutional and community-law inventory against the background of the European liberalization of integrative forms of advertising through the directive on audiovisual media services. Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8300-4986-9 .
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Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Moritz Holzgraefe: Advertising Integration in TV Programs and Video Games - Product Placement and Related Forms as Reflected in Media and Competition Law , ISBN 978-3-8329-5750-6 , 2010
  2. Spiegel No. 40/85
  3. ^ Moviepilot: Morgan Spurlocks The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
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  5. 20,000 euros for an article with an expert presentation , Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 14, 2005
  7. INSM: Advertisement in "Marienhof" was "Fehler" ( memento from December 23, 2005 in the Internet Archive ), Netzeitung, September 21, 2005
  8. In the picture , The Economist , November 1, 2007
  9. Technical report: Entertainment Marketing: Placement - the slightly different form of advertising. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on October 27, 2011 ; Retrieved May 3, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Google Books Manfred Bruhn: Handbook Communication: Basics - Innovative Approaches - Practical Implementations . 1st edition. GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8349-0377-8 .
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  14. ^ Report by Christian Fuchs in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of November 19, 2007 (PDF; 257 kB)
  15. The business with purchased newspaper articles in Ukraine deutschlandfunk October 27, 2012
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  17. For more information , see Roland Bornemann , Product Placement on Television Without Borders, ZUM 2015, p. 48 ff.
  18. Directive 89/552 / EEC (PDF) of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 3, 1989 on the coordination of certain laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive).
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  24. Bavaria Film earned for years from surreptitious advertising ( memento from February 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), epd, 42/05
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  103. Wayne's World (1992) - Memorable quotes