Working at BatesMeron, I have the chance to be up-close and personal with brands every day. We talk about brands, write about brands and often create new brands, so it comes as no surprise that when it’s time for me to leave the office and head out into the place they call “not work,” I still have brands on the brain.
Interestingly, thinking about brands in my everyday life has made me realize just how omnipresent brands are in our lives. (I’m not just talking about the overt advertising we all see and notice either.) Brands are everywhere—and in this post I’d like to explore some of the most interesting places you’ll find them.
Do you remember the scene from E.T. where Elliot lures E.T. out from his shed with Reese’s Pieces? How about when an unassuming Mountain Dew vending machine turned into a soda-slinging robot-o-death in Transformers? For most, these scenes probably didn’t stand out much considering they had nothing to do with the plot. To those who work in the branding business however, these scenes jump out as very deliberate product placement.
For those who don’t know, product placement is the term for when companies pay filmmakers and television producers to feature their brands in their movies or shows. These placements can be as small as a split-second cameo, or as major as being a part of the plot itself (it wasn’t an accident that Tom Hanks’ trusty volleyball companion in Cast Away was named Wilson). No matter their level of involvement, the brands you glimpse in movies are there for a reason.
It doesn’t take a branding expert to notice that sports are saturated with every kind of brand imaginable. With fields and stadiums named after brands and shows and reports named after more, branding in sports all seems pretty straightforward… until you realize that even the things you rarely see or notice are represented by brands.
For example, the official brand of basketball for the NBA is Spalding, which means every ball you see on TV is a Spalding ball. Similarly, Nike recently acquired the rights to be the exclusive brand for jerseys in the NFL. These brands aren’t given much attention during the actual games, but their place as the “official” sponsors of these popular sports is still an incredibly valuable position.
Video games today have become incredibly realistic and brands have recognized the unique opportunity to reach new audiences. The same way that brands pay to have their products included in movies, some have started to pay game developers to include their brands into their games as well. Brands like Subway, Pizza Hut and Axe Body Spray have all had their names included in video games over the years—even the POTUS himself got in on the action, placing advertising for his 2008 campaign into the driving game Burnout: Paradise.
In maybe the most surprising place of them all, brands can even be found in the media, including newspapers, online news and entertainment sites and pretty much everything else. Right now, you might be saying, “of course there are brands in the media! I’ve seen ads there all the time.” You’d be right of course, but sometimes brands can even be found in the stories themselves.
In a process called native advertising, brands sponsor stories in the news and entertainment, which usually contain a plug for the brand in question. For instance, Netflix recently sponsored a news piece in The New York Times about female prison inmates, which also happened to promote their hit show, Orange is the New Black. The popular entertainment site BuzzFeed also uses native advertising in their posts, so much so that it makes up for the majority of their revenue.
I’ll be the first to admit, I can be a little brand-crazy sometimes—it’s why I work where I do. But it’s hard not to be impressed by the names that have become such a big part of our culture and how hard they worked to get there. I’m not sure what new frontier our favorite brands will pop up in next, but I’m excited to find out.