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‘Idol,’ Coke Top Placement Tallies

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research last week unveiled data from its new product placement measuring service, revealing some high marks for obvious names such as “American Idol” and Coca-Cola-as well as for some less ubiquitous brands, including The WB’s “Jamie Kennedy Experiment” and Moosehead Beer.

“American Idol” tallied more than 3,200 “occurrences” of product placement for the entire 2003-04 season, the highest among all prime-time shows and almost 800 more than its nearest competitor, according to Nielsen’s Place*Views service. Nielsen defines product placement as one brand seen or heard for at least one second in a scene.

“American Idol” has major marketing deals with Coca-Cola, AT&T Wireless and Ford Motor Co. for significant product placement.

The shows with the second- and third-highest instances of product placement were less obvious: CBS’s “The King of Queens” and The WB’s “Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” Contributing to its high placement count, “King of Queens”‘ leading character works for UPS, the package delivery company. “Jamie Kennedy,” a hidden-camera show, places Mr. Kennedy in public places such as supermarkets and malls, where many consumer products can be seen.

The fourth-place show was another obvious contender: NBC’s “The Apprentice.” It had major product placement for companies such as DaimlerChrysler. Surprisingly, “Survivor,” the show that started the recent product placement craze, didn’t even make the top 10.

The top consumer brand for product placement was another no-brainer: Coca-Cola, with 2,260 occurrences. The other two major “Idol” sponsors-Ford Motor Co. and AT&T Wireless-came in fifth and sixth, respectively.

But the third-place consumer brand was another head-scratcher: the Boston Red Sox. The explanation comes from last season’s “Survivor” contestant “Boston Rob,” who was fond of wearing a Red Sox baseball hat and who survived on the game show for its entire run. Interestingly, the New York Yankees were also among the top 10 brands.

Internet provider NetZero tallied up a count of 633 for fourth place. That advertiser heavily sponsors segments on NBC’s “Fear Factor,” one of the few reality shows that is regularly rerun, a situation that drove up its numbers. “Fear Factor” was the seventh-ranked prime-time program for product placement, according to Place*Views.

Moosehead Beer came in seventh among brands placed-just ahead of the Yankees. But Nielsen and other executives could not account for its high placing.

David Harkness, senior VP of strategy and development for VNU Media Measurement and Information, the parent division of Nielsen Media Research, said this kind of product information is invaluable to networks and advertisers.

“Networks have no idea how many brand appearances are occurring in their programs because many shows are not produced by them but by independent producers,” he said. “Networks are looking to monetize brand placement. They want to have synergy between advertisers in programs and products placed in programs.”

Mr. Harkness said Place*Views doesn’t distinguish whether the product placements are paid or not, and does not consider the size of the deal for paid placements. Many deals are more traditional, such as a deal in which a prop master gets free product in exchange for exposure. No money is transacted in these deals. Other product deals, such as with Coke, might be pieces of $10 million-plus marketing deals with big shows.

Place*Views, a Web-based service, will distribute numbers weekly starting this season. It has already signed media agency ZenithOptimedia Group of New York as its first major client, and has a number of unannounced deals with agencies and networks.