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Top Strategies for Small to Midsize Businesses to Implement Embedded Marketing

Let’s take a poll? Who googled the brand of bracelet Wendy Byrde wore in the popular show, Ozark? Who can honestly say they didn’t want to run out to buy a pair of aviator Ray-Bans after watching Tom Cruise sporting them in Top Gun? And, who didn’t purchase a bag of Reese’s Pieces after watching ET? Little did we know, by researching and buying these products, we were doing EXACTLY what advertisers were hoping we’d do by paying for their product to be placed in these shows and movies.

Product placement (also known as embedded marketing) is a marketing technique in which a product or service is showcased in some form of media, such as in television shows, movies, music videos, social media platforms, or even ads for other products. Unlike traditional forms of advertising that can be disruptive, when viewers see a product in a show or movie they are watching, they do not even realize they’re watching a piece of advertising. Subtly, yet effectively, the product is being placed there to capture our attention and influence future buying decisions. And, it works! For reference, according to this article, in 1986, when the first Top Gun movie came out, sales of the Ray-Ban’s aviators rose by nearly 40 percent in the seven months after the film’s release. After the release of Top Gun: Maverick, sales on the Aviators also rose significantly.

While potentially costly to do, the benefits of product placement are:

  • Increased brand awareness

  • Increased POSITIVE brand awareness by showcasing your product or service without disrupting your viewing experience, like commercials do

  • Cost-effectiveness. Depending on the reach, the overall value of paid product advertising can be greater than traditional advertising  

Of course, the examples of product placement provided above are of well-known brands with a healthy advertising/marketing budget. While we can certainly relate to those examples, small to midsize business owners likely do not have the budget to place their product or service in the next Netflix hit series or mega-blockbuster movie. However, there are opportunities for small to midsize businesses to find cost effective ways for product placement. 

Reverie suggests the following:

  • Contact your local TV network. It never hurts to ask them if you can place your product or service on their stations and shows. The cost to place your product in a local show or on a local station should be reasonable, and perhaps even free.

  • Check for any independent films that may be filming in your area. Again, it never hurts to ask if you can place your product or service in their film. To help in this effort, you could volunteer your business as a location to film their production in or as the production’s “headquarters” in exchange for them to feature your product or service in it.

  • Reach out to local theaters and theater clubs, including the local high school’s theater group. Ask them if your product or service can be a prop on stage or used in the production.  

  • Collaborate with community event organizers (especially those events that match your company’s values). Ask them if your team can volunteer at the event wearing company swag or place branded products in the event’s goodie bags or at the event.

  • Seek out opportunities for free PR. Check out local newspapers, radio stations, and tv networks for opportunities to submit articles, photos, and information about your products and services. This could lead to opportunities to have your product be included on a news broadcast or gift guide.

  • Be creative in finding influencers. Is there a local group, high school or club team, business, or not-for-profit organization that can use your product or service while they are interacting with/performing for the public? Think of who you could swap products or services with for cross promotion and collaboration.

Product placement can be an excellent opportunity to increase brand awareness for small to mid-sized businesses. One just needs to think creatively outside the box and not be afraid to ask for and capitalize on unique opportunities!  For more information on product placement, contact us at

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