Embedded Marketing- Improving brand relevance

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on October 23, 2011

Embedded Marketing or product placement is implanting brand and marketing messages into selected entertainment mediums like movies, music videos, games, books to improve brand relevance and effectively reach target audiences. It attaches itself to the natural narration of the movie and hence the audience is more receptive to the concept.


It has been observed from research that brand recall for commercials shown during the television programs with higher level of TRPs are very poor due to the channel switching behaviour observed in target audience (Fourier and Dolan 1997). This is where embedded marketing or product placement enters in stealth mode to catch eyeballs.

Commercial insertions within a particular media program are used to heighten the visibility of a brand, product or service. Marketers use Product placements to give the brand a character, add a sense of reality and to create a resounding and familiar effect in the minds of the customer. The availability of a captive audience with a greater reach than traditional advertisements, and the advantage of showing brands in their natural environment provide motivation for this form of marketing. Brand/Product/Service placement is widely used in both Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

Product placement dates back to the nineteenth century in publishing. By the time Jules Verne published the adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days, transport and shipping companies lobbied to be mentioned in the story.

Another well known example is of Apple Computers. The company was facing a crisis in the mid 90s. Very few people were buying their computers and Apple needed to get in the public eye and create a positive resonance. So, in 1996, they put their computers on the silver screen in two blockbuster movies Mission Impossible and Independence Day. In MI Tom Cruise uses a PowerBook to communicate with the bad guy that ultimately saves the day. Independence Day has Jeff Goldblum using a PowerBook to plant a deadly computer virus in the attacking aliens’ ship.

Forms of Embedded marketing




Demonstrate the attributes of product


To present a public or private institution e.g. showing a McD in movies


Improves company image, Usage of Lenovo in KBC


showcase the long tradition of a brand e.g. using Indian postal services in movies


Presenting the rival’s product in negative image. This kind of product placement is unintentional


Introducing a new product, like Swift in the movie “Bunty or bubbli”


To include facts or opinion in the plot like taking about new movie in a TV serial


Release of products from a fictional environment to real world

Patrick rossler, Julia bacher “transactional effect of product placements”


How do I know it’s effective?

The effectiveness of Embedded Marketing is dependent on several factors. Some of most common and essential measurement criteria are:

  • How well does product/brand/service fit into the plot?
  • Does Brand awareness / recall increase as an effect of the embedded marketing?
  • Does product placement outperform a traditional TV commercial/print ad/OOH etc for the same product/brand/service?

iTVX is a company designed to measure the quality of product placement for brands. iTVX uses the Q-ratio system. It is a system with over 50 factors that is used to determine how effective and how high quality each product placement is. This system can be used to set benchmarks by companies so that they can evaluate product placement.

A Critical View at Embedded marketing

Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” has a simple concept. The protagonist Morgan, fed up with all the advertising around him decides to take a critical look at “brand integration” in our everyday lives. He made a documentary that is fully-funded by product placement. He shows us every step involved in getting sponsors and one point that he tries to drive home is that movies and brands have formed a symbiotic relationship—studios make money when sponsors buy into a movie, sponsors get a visibility boost from people seeing the flick, and in turn the sponsors promote said movies not only on their packaging but in their other advertising. It’s a pretty good racket in the end.

The new James Bond flick, “Bond 23,” will be financed by a whopping $45 million worth of product placement. That is an entire third of the movie’s budget. It’s far more than any Bond film in the past, even ones that had huge sponsors like BMW and Omega, and more than twice as much as the film that previously held the record for the most money made from product placement, “Minority Report” which got $20 million from American Express, Lexus, and Bulgari.

Relevance in India and Globally

A research paper was presented during the conference on Marketing Paradigms for Emerging Economies says that about 71 percent of Indian consumers think that product placement is a good way of being informed about products and services. 85 percent of the consumers understood product placement as a way to generate revenue for the film maker and 50 percent of them said that placements were overused and unrealistic.

In the developed economies, brand building has concentrated on the emotional and the experience aspects. United Kingdom is probably the only country which has a ban on product placements. UK viewers will be prompted by a ‘P’ logo to inform them about product placement on television

While in emerging economies like India, there has been increase in the use of product placements in movies.

From hero (Yamaha 350) & Bobby (Rajdoot Motorcycle); now production houses have started to use this as a mode of revenue generation. Krrish had tide, hero, john players and 14 other products. Rang de basanti had Coca-Cola, Airtel, LG and Berger also the recent release of Salman khan “Bodyguard” had Kareena Kapoor using her “Sony Vaio” in college.

Indian markets are far more innovative and flexible as compared to the international markets where they are more stringent about their solutions. In the current era, product placements are win-win situation for everyone. For broadcasters it increases the revenues and allows them to cut risk, while for the advertisers it increases higher chance of viewership and brand recall, and viewers gets informed about the products.



Kotler Philip, Keller Kevin lane, “Marketing management, 11e 2003

Margaret & Jane, Product placement effects

Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy, TV Product placement, Campaign India, 2011




This article has been authored by Aakash Sharma and Ann Varghese from NMIMS

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