When watching TV automakers have two chances to put product & messaging in front of your eyeballs: the traditional 30-60 second ad or in-show product placement.
The advent of the digital video recorder has given users the ability to skip past commercials pushing automakers towards product placement as the operative eyeball grabbing media buy.
In case you aren’t familiar with what automotive product placement looks like - I’ll describe it for you. During a television show it typically comes in the form of a long akward shot of a vehicle or its navigation system. It can also present itself as an out-of-place comment about a vehicle’s fuel economy while doing something unrelated, like speeding to catch a murderer. That is product placement.
The most recent Nielsen Cross-Platform Report showed that viewers who watched Live TV had declined 2%. Their report noted the growing use of mobile and game consoles to consume TV content as having a role in the decline.
While Nielsen’s numbers may bring a sense of melancholy to traditional media, I don’t foresee this as a continuing trend. Events such as the presidential debate and the Red Bull “Space Jump” are clear indicators consumers still find value in live content.
That value exists in two forms: sharing with friends as it happens and supplemental support (i.e. fact checking during the presidential debate).
My TV says TWEET!
Television shows have grown socially proactive. Most now display a hash tag somewhere on the screen and in some cases it remains up during the entire program. The goal isn’t merely to hear from fans, but in hopes those fans will amplify awareness of the show among their social networks. If I’m following 1,000 people and 5 of them are all tweeting #SomeNewShow, I’m going to turn on the TV to see what this show is all about. It’s a simple social endorsement.
But does encouraging viewers to take their eyeballs away from the TV diminish the value and reach of traditional commercials? If so what can brands do?
Simple: join the conversation. This applies doubly if your brand is affiliated with the programming.
Recently I discussed Hyundai’s relationship with AMC’s The Walking Dead. During The Walking Dead’s premier (October 14) there were 86,000 impressions on Twitter using either #TheWalkingDead or #WalkingDead.
This seems like a great opportunity for a brand to participate in a conversation, especially a brand with existing synergies. Unfortunately, during the day of the show’s premiere Hyundai’s official Twitter account wasn’t very active, sending out only these two tweets.
*In whiney voice* “But Juan, what could Hyundai possibly have to say about a zombie show?” Anything! Something is better than nothing.
It could have been funny: “What? Carl is missing again? Check the back of the Tuscon. Plenty of room back there.”
It could have been serious: Like a link to the Hyundai YouTube page or a photo of the Hyundai zombie car.
It could have been funny (but shorter): “BRAAAAAAAAAAAINNNSSS.:O”
I’m not just picking on Hyundai, this applies to all brands that participate in forms of product placement – GM and their support of CBS’s Hawaii Five-O or Toyota’s support of Bones on FOX network. And so on and so forth.
Brands should look for synergies everywhere, always. Live tweeting might not work for every television-tie-up automakers opt into, but for the ones that do, engage.
So the next time the silver Camaro SS in Hawaii Five-O finds itself in a high-speed chase Chevrolet’s Twitter feed
better should read, “Sorry bad guys. 426 horsepowers. You.Can’t.Win. #H50”