Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Does E.T. Really Prefer Reeses Pieces To M&M's? Or Was He Paid To Like Them?

Remember one of the earliest examples of product placement? Hershey paid to have Reeces Pieces in the movie. ET ate the candy and sales of Reeses Pieces shot up 65% in the weeks following the movie release as all the kids wanted what ET had. Take a look at this Time Magazine article from July 26, 1982, just over one month after the release of E.T.

That's product placement, one of the most effective forms of advertising. M&M's didn't realize this back in 1982 because it was relatively unheard of. They had a chance to have M&M's in the movie before it was offered to Reeces Pieces. They turned it down. Big mistake for them.

Fast forward to 2007. Product Placement is everywhere... on TV (The Apprentice, Survivor), in movies, in video games, on the internet... Ahh, hold on. Product placement is OK everywhere, just not on the internet. right? The internet has a different set of rules, right? It depends who you ask.

Here's what I mean. When first started, I thought it was a good idea. The first thing I thought it was was a form of product placement for blogs. I hadn't considered using it to advertise or even getting paid to use it, but nonetheless, I thought it was a pretty good idea. product placement for blogs. I just didn't know why it took so long for someone to do this.

But then comes the controversey. WOMMA is concerned at the corrosive impact of these practices on consumer trust of consumer-generated media in general, and the blogosphere in general. But there are differing points of view. Andy Beard disagrees with WOMMA.

I'm all for innovative ways of advertising, including ReviewME (Product placement for blogs). If it works it works; if not, the marketplace will correct itself and Review me will fade away. But I don't think anybody should try to stop a business from doing what it does because you disagree with it.

And, about product placement. Product placement works when people don't realize that the products intertwined in the media are paid for. I guarantee you 100% the the kids that purchased Reece's Pieces after watching E.T. didn't know that Hershey paid to have the candy placed in the movie. How could they? They were too young to know (or even care). Did Hershey and the producers of E.T. know that they were manipulating kids. For sure they did. I'm also pretty sure that nobody called for full disclosure of product placement in the movie at that time. Perhaps it would have looked something like this:

People talked about the success Reeces Pieces had with E.T. And, they continue to use product placement everywhere and almost all agree that it is a great way to advertise... JUST DON'T DO IT ON THE INTERNET. For some reason, the internet is sacred. The rules are different. People are calling for obvious disclosure of paid content, in a way that it would be undisputable to a reader that they were reading paid content, the type of disclosure that would be a be a total disincentive for any advertiser to pay for it anymore. Movies don't have to do it. Video games don't have to do it. But bloggers are being made to feel shame for doing just what many movies, TV shows, and video games are freely allowed to do.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hershey did *NOT* pay to have their product in the E.T. movie, although they DID go for a US$1MM deal AFTERWARD in which they would promote the E.T. film, and would have rights to use the E.T.images in it's advertising. Marr's was approched first, but management there was so paranoid of doing something wrong (The Marr's family is notably reclusive) that they were afraid to be the one's to sign off... so the deal went to Hershey's .... reminds me of how Microsoft got the contract for delivering a OS to IBM instead of CPM creator Gary Kildall.

Besides, E.T. was a fantasy/fictional character! I don't think he "liked" either!

May 22, 2007 5:42 AM  
Anonymous En said...

No, actually, they did...
"In the early 1980s, Hershey executive Jack Dowd met with Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg and struck a deal to include REESES’S PIECES candy in Spielberg’s upcoming film, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. " Quoted from Hershey's website at
... and after they said they didn't approve of product placement, too... tsk

May 7, 2008 12:07 PM  

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