The Decline and Fall of Product Placement
Jonah Sachs predicts three distinct changes that might drive the emerging practice of story placement over product placement.
For more than a century, the motion picture has reigned supreme as the world's ultimate storytelling tool. The sheer size of the "big screen," Hollywood's confidence that their product can hold audience attention for upwards of three hours, and budgets that run into the hundreds of millions, all proclaim the dominance of their art form. And the artists who tell stories? Filmmakers are gods, TV producers are wannabes, and ad execs are scum (a recent Ad Age survey put the advertising profession below politicians on the respectability scale).
So it's no wonder that over the decades, advertisers have so eagerly turned to the tool of product placement when looking to associate their brands with a great story. Embedding a product or service into a story masterpiece has seemed like a natural win — especially when the assumption is that brand stories will never be able to compete with the real storytellers in Hollywood.
Of course, these assumptions are becoming obsolete faster than most audiences or advertisers realize. And the future of storytelling will turn this power dynamic on its head. Technology is constantly opening up opportunities for stories surrounding brand experiences to be every bit as compelling — and far more interactive and authentic — than the next Hollywood blockbuster. Instead of product placement — where the advertiser pays to attach a product to someone else's superior story — I believe we are entering the era of story placement — in which intense creativity will be applied to every step of the customer experience to turn the brand itself into a compelling and ever unfolding story.
How will this work? As I imagine the creative agency of 2020, based on conversations with numerous executives and futurists, I see three distinct changes that might drive the emerging practice of story placement...