Stephen, Andrew T.; Coote, Leonard V.
January 2005
AMA Winter Educators' Conference Proceedings;2005, Vol. 16, p28
Conference Proceeding
Brand placement in mainstream media such as films, television programs, computer and video games, and music videos has become a common practice, and a component of many integrated marketing communication strategies. There are now countless examples of brand placements in media, particularly in films and television programs. Some recent placements in television programs include General Motors' products in CBS's Survivor and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Mitsubishi, American Express, and Coors in NBC's The Restaurant, Coca-Cola in Fox's American Idol, MSNBC in NBC's The West Wing, Dell Computer in Fox's 24, and the Trump corporate brand as the focus of NBC's The Apprentice. Most commercial studio films feature brand placements, such as Fox News in 20th Century Fox's Day After Tomorrow, and the suite of brands placed throughout the recent James Bond films (including Omega, BMW, Aston Martin, Heineken, and Visa). Past research on brand placement has focused on measuring the effectiveness of placements with respect to consumer memory and recall and attitudes towards brands, practitioners' views on brand placement, and consumers' attitudes towards the practice of brand placement with respect to mostly ethical and moral considerations. Little extant research has considered more enduring and fundamental processes or outcomes of brand placements. This paper links brand placement with brand loyalty outcomes through a process of consumer-brand identification. The integration of consumer-brand identification with a nontraditional marketing communications strategy such as brand placement is novel. Despite their prevalence in marketing, the processes for leveraging brands to create strategically valuable communication mechanisms and highly loyal consumers is not yet fully understood. The existing literature has built a detailed and thorough foundation for understanding brand placement and its potential benefits to advertisers and marketers, however it is yet to consider the contributions brand placement makes to developing strong social and emotional bonds between consumers and their brands. Brand placements are a unique form of marketing communication in that they allow consumers to view brands "in action." When brands are placed in popular mass media, this not only provides exposure to potential target consumers, but the placement also shows brands being used or consumed in natural settings. This may be more believable, since media characters with which consumers might relate to and identify with use the placed brands. Social identity theory is thus relevant in this context. A conceivable outcome of brand placements putting brands in "action" in the eyes of consumers may be the development of consumer-brand identification. Identification literature has considered image-, knowledge-, and social-related antecedents of identification (e.g., Bhattacharya and Sen 2003). Brand placements showing brands in apparently realistic (yet contrived) contexts may signal richer image, knowledge, and social information about brands to potential consumers than other forms of marketing communications due to the more realistic medium. Examining brand placements and consumer- brand identification then helps not only to advance knowledge of the effectiveness of this communication device, but also to improve our understanding of how to actualize deep-level bonds of identification between consumers and brands. A conceptual framework advanced in this paper proposes a process through which image-, knowledge-, and social benefit-related characteristics of brand placements contribute to the development of identification based bonds between consumers and brands. Loyalty or relational outcomes of identification are also considered (i.e., brand loyalty, brand advocacy, and brand defence).…


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