Entertainment media has a huge influence on our culture in a myriad of ways, from how we view the world, to our values, to the way we interact with each other. Pieces of media can influence opinions and challenge the status quo. Entertainment media can be found in the form of books, songs, TV shows, films, plays, podcasts, social media, art exhibitions, and so much more. Every day, we consume an innumerable amount of media, as well as direct and indirect forms of advertising that affect the buying behavior of consumers.
In this article, I aim to explore the relationship between product placement and the automotive industry — how they correlate, what the future of automotive product placement looks like, and how this can benefit both large companies and society.
What is Product Placement?
Shopify defines product placement as “a marketing technique in which a product or service is showcased in some form of media such as television shows, movies, music videos, social media platforms, or even ads for other products.” This type of advertising is different from traditional advertising, as there typically isn’t a direct call-to-action for the consumer — the product is simply there.
Product placement targets consumers’ implicit memory — memories that are unconscious and automatic — which in turn can affect behavior. Marketers use product placement to increase brand awareness and aim to influence consumers’ buying behavior. Because of this, marketers can’t know for sure whether or not product placement is the direct cause of consumers purchasing a good or service. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though; product placement drives awareness, which is the first step with other marketing efforts to capitalize on the established awareness to drive consideration, much like an assisted conversion.
Product Placement & the Automotive Industry
The automotive industry is no stranger to product placement. In fact, automobiles are one of the most commonly promoted products via product placement. For example, many Audi vehicles are shown within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — most notably for Tony Stark in “Iron Man” — including the Audi A5, A8, R8, R8 Spyder, R8 e-tron®, and e-tron® GT concept car. Tony Stark is a billionaire tech genius, so it’s no surprise that he would have the latest luxury cars, with the Audi R8 becoming his signature car throughout his time in the MCU.
According to Loren Angelo, the director of marketing for Audi of America, Audi placement in Marvel films has likely been part of the 30 percent increase in brand awareness since 2008. The Audi R8 saw an increase in sales in 2008, however it’s uncertain whether the sales are directly related to its placement in the MCU, as there are numerous other factors to take into account. Nonetheless, Audi and Marvel have had a very successful ongoing partnership that has benefited both parties.
The Future of Automotive Product Placement
With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), it’s no surprise that we’ll be seeing many more hybrids and EVs showcased in the media in the upcoming years. Dominic Toretto, the leading character in the “Fast and Furious” franchise will dominate the big screen in a 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona SRT® Banshee concept EV in the upcoming “Fast X” movie. Margot Robbie’s titular character “Barbie” seems to cruise around Barbieland in a hot pink electric Chevy Corvette. And in a partnership between General Motors (GM) and Netflix, we’ll start seeing even more GM EVs take to the big screen in Netflix shows such as “Love is Blind,” “The Brothers Sun,” “Queer Eye,” and “Unstable.”
In fact, the appearance of EVs in film has gone up 140.6 percent over the last five years, with the Tesla Model S being the most used model according to a study conducted by the British car leasing company Leasing Options.
Impact on Society
So, why does this all matter? As I mentioned at the beginning, entertainment media influences many aspects of our lives, including buying behavior. The rise of EVs is challenging the status quo — automobiles powered by traditional gas engines — and while many people have purchased hybrids and EVs, there’s still some hesitancy from consumers who aren’t totally sold on the idea of EVs just yet. Seeing your favorite film or TV show character behind the wheel of a sleek EV may influence consumers to purchase one as their next vehicle; at the very least, it increases awareness of EVs and how they work.
Are you interested in learning more about EVs and the automotive industry on the job? If you’re a dealership looking for assistance marketing your current EV and gas vehicle inventory, get in touch with our team via our contact form to find out more about the digital marketing and advertising services we offer!