Subliminal Product Placement in movies (study)


In spring 2013, we conducted a comprehensive study on the advertising effects of Product Placement. Here, we especially focused on those effects that are only perceived unconsciously.

For this purpose, we first produced a short film in order to be able to integrate the placement exactly the way we wanted it to be and also have the ideal content right in place. This was also necessary because different versions should be tested with decreasing recognizability of the advertising stimulus. To find the perfect settings, different variations (10) of the stimulus were tested in various pre-tests before the final cut. As stimulus we used the beer brand “Veltins” that was integrated at two times in the movie.

The actual study was conducted online. For this purpose, a special tool was developed and programmed. This way, we not only got perfect and detailed measurement instruments, but also could make it look more like a usual online movie streaming platform than a manipulating empirical study. At the same time, any interaction could be measured in detail – even if it was about the time that the user spent at a specific area of the website or the way he played the video.

We put the results of the study (in a simplified and abbreviated form) in the following infographic.



Discussion of the results

The study not only showed that product placement also works unconsciously, but also helped to gain more knowledge about subliminal advertising effects. Subliminal effects are currently still criminally neglected in science as well as in practice. Even though they very strongly contribute to the success of product placement. The proven impact on subconscious defense reactions supports this. Negative effects as a result of badly implemented product placements can even occur if consumers are not even aware of the advertising.
However, who uses the marketing tactic correctly benefits from it even more!

The results shown above can be seen as clear evidence and definitely must be considered when it comes to evaluating product placement. However, these are merely two specially isolated and extracted advertising effects. Due to the special structure of the experiment, many other effects were hard defined by us and not further taken into account. Even more advertising effects were considered, but not included in the final analysis, in order to make clear-cut statements. Accordingly, many other parameters must be considered in practice.
At the same time, further investigations have to be considered as our study, although it is very comprehensive, represents only a part of reality.

Because of these limitations, which almost necessarily apply to every scientific investigation, we have developed Placedise. There, we combine a variety of such results. This way, we can not only work with a comprehensive combined sample, but also derive more valid results by the law of large numbers and the diversity of results – and we can transfer this to your project. 

The results of this empirical study are of course also integrated into Placedise. This applies not only for the described results, but also all other findings and secondary outcomes. 

BTW: Findings of this research are also already included in some other blog posts (especially those with strong scientific writing style).


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Jens Kuerschner

Author: Jens Kuerschner

Jens Kuerschner is founder and CEO of Placedise. As an expert in the field of consumer behavior and media enthusiast, he is especially responsible for the product know-how. In our blog, this knowledge and the experience of many years of research and study will be shared with you.

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