In 2021, global spending on product placement reached a new high of £19bn, a whopping 14% increase over the total spend for 2020. With product placement in films costing anywhere from £30,000 to £250,000 per year, so it’s unsurprising that the big brands are taking up these opportunities most regularly.
Vending has a special place in the world of product placement, adorning corridors, warehouses, staff rooms, offices and a range of other settings, without looking at all out of place. Brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi have the visual identity to brighten any scene and draw the viewers eye at the same time.
You’ve likely seen these brands on the big and small screen hundreds of times over the years, but you’re far less likely to be able to pick them out in the background, which is why they work so well. You’re also less likely to have registered verbal product placement (when a brand name is spoken in dialogue between characters), as it’s even less obvious than visual product placement.
The image below is courtesy of Product Placement Blog
Product placement has been proven to deliver substantial return on investment for companies, with subconscious recognition of brands increasing consumers’ desire to talk about, search for and have a positive attitude towards brands. So even if a vending machine isn’t front and centre in a scene, the odds are that your brain has clocked the bright lights, colourful branding or range of products inside the machine.
We took a quick poll around the office and most of our team couldn’t recall specific examples of product placements they’d seen, but the vast majority knew the exact brands, including Coca Cola, Ben and Jerry’s and Fiji Water. Whilst not at all scientific, this does demonstrate in the most basic form how product placement for food and drink vending brands can be highly effective at building ‘Top of Mind Awareness’.
That’s not to say that product placement is always subtle, with some films and TV series’ paid placements now synonymous with the films themselves. Take the James Bond film franchise as a prime example, and we can almost guarantee that if we asked you which car brand Bond drives, you’d respond with ‘Aston Martin’.
Likewise, if you were asked to identify the brand of shoe that Marty McFly wears in Back to the Future II, odds are you’ll say ‘Nike’ – the product tie-in was also supported with a 1,000 run limited edition shoe in 2011, so fans could get their own slice of Back to the Future magic.
The image below is courtesy of The Atlas.
Whatever the product, if the placement is done well, it can be massive for a brand. To this date, James Bond still drives an Aston Martin, and limited-edition Nike shoes are immensely popular.
Coca Cola and Pepsi have been doing this with vending machines in films and TV series for decades, and with the high return on investment, will no doubt continue to do so for decades to come. The big question is, with returns from product placement continuing to rise and investment skyrocketing, will we start to see smaller food and drink brands step onto the ladder?
In the next film you watch, you might just have your eye drawn by a product or machine that, for once, isn’t red or blue.