Almost a decade ago, Brand Strategy ran a piece by Phil James lamenting the diminishing impact of traditional media buys in the wake of emerging new channels.
Ironically, “James Bond” served as his illustration of how “media-within-media” could be successfully leveraged, in his article titled, “How to sell sports sponsorship,” February 18, 2000.
Product placement is a media-within-media spend. James Bond driving a BMW gives more airtime — and exciting airtime at that — to the product than a conventional ad.
James went on to argue that an advertisement placed “between chunks of programing or editorial is losing impact.” These buys are simply too succeptable to audience surf-off, or diminishing attention spans. Creating an entertainment value that overcomes this by stand-alone hook increasingly involves production costs on par with features, second for second. This also portends a dedicated association with the media into which they’ll be inserted: Difficult to predict, and not very flexible.
[Therefore] skillful product placement in movies can be a viable and highly effective marketing tool, especially when the product is ‘character-forming.’
For instance, Poggenpohl kitchen in a TV character’s loft apartment home tells the viewer plenty about the character, as did James Bond’s Aston Martin….
In other words, accountability becomes a two-way street. Agent 007 can’t simply drive a vehicle sold by the highest bidder without in some way selling out the character (read, “James Bond brand”) itself.