Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Etiam posuere varius magna, ut accumsan quam pretium vel. Duis ornare felis

Hirtenstraße 19, 10178 Berlin, Germany
(+44) 871.075.0336

How brands are finding a starring role in a world that skips ads

Illustration by Kate Walker

How brands are finding a starring role in a world that skips ads


The Future. Product placement is becoming more important in the age of streaming, ad-blocking tech, and the ability to look at a second screen when an ad appears. Even as the film and TV streaming industry gravitates toward pushing ad-tiers to jumpstart subscriber growth, savvy product placement may still be the only way to guarantee that an audience will actually pay attention (at least subconsciously) to what brands are pushing.

Place me anywhere
When everyone is trying to avoid ads, brands have to get creative in how they can take center stage, according to NYT. Product placement is helping brands get eyeballs on products while helping studios lower production costs.

  • Product placement typically works in a quid-pro-quo exchange — such as a production needing a car, so they get one for free from an automaker looking to plug one into a show or movie.
  • But for more abstract brands, product placement may even mean getting a shoutout in dialogue. Zillow did this when it paid to be organically name-dropped in Grace and Frankie and Promising Young Woman (which the company notes did well for them).

And this isn’t the age of your grandma’s product placement — tech companies are experimenting with digitally swapping out products after a project is shot. Amazon announced it would test it in shows like Jack Ryan and Reacher.

Scene stealer
With a recent Fast Company survey finding that 74% of Americans often skipped ads where they could, it’s no wonder the product placement industry is worth $23 billion. That’s a 14% increase since 2020.

But not all product placement is created equal. Brands market-test their ad campaigns to death to ensure their message is received positively. The most successful product placement follows a similar — but hopefully more creative — ethos. For example, the first season of Stranger Things did wonders for Eggo (a 14% spike in sales… because what’s cooler than Eleven eating waffles?). Still, a character’s death in And Just Like That while riding a Peloton sent the exercise company’s stock sinking.

Stay relevant

Don’t miss out on the daily email about all things business, entertainment, and culture.