By Jorge Vergara, on 2 November 2023
Netflix has become one of the largest sources of entertainment for consumers today and although this platform doesn't currently offer advertising slots, it is expected to experiment with adding a lower-priced, ads-supported plan option to its offerings.
In this article, we'll review how product placement on Netflix currently works and the future of advertising on Netflix.
Product Placement on Netflix
Currently, Netflix offers a large catalog of movies, series, and programs free of traditional advertising. So, how does advertising work on this platform? It happens in the form of product placement where certain products or brands appear in its shows or movies. Viewers often respond indifferently or even positively to this, since it does not interrupt their TV experience.
Product placement on Netflix is a very popular option. Some series, like those that take place in the past, are not suitable for product placement, which makes the price of being featured in a series even higher.
Types of Product Placement
Overall, there are 4 main types of product placement.
- Verbal placement: the product is named, but the actors do not interact with it.
- Passive placement: the product is part of the background set of the series, but nobody uses it or names it.
- Active placement: the characters interact with the product.
- Hyperactive placement: the characters interact with the product and make explicit references to it.
Examples of Product Placement in Netflix Shows
Let's look at several Netflix series to better understand the presence of brands on this platform.
1. Sense 8
Sense 8 is an American science fiction series in which 8 strangers from different parts of the world discover that they have a special connection and must work together to discover what is behind it.
When it comes to product placement, the following can be found:
- The brand with the largest presence is HP (8 placements), followed by Porsche and Apple.
- Car, computer, and beverage brands also appear frequently in the show.
There is passive, active, and verbal placement.
This American romantic comedy explores male and female perspectives on relationships through Gus and Mickey, two very different people who meet by chance and start a relationship.
Here are the takeaways in regard to product placement:
- There are a total of 79 product appearances in the 6 episodes that were analyzed.
The most widely commonly seen brand is Apple, which appears18 times, followed by Samsung (5 appearances). The presence of Honda, Redbull, Converse, Nike, and Adidas is also worth noting.
3. Sex Education
This British series centers on Otis, a 16-year-old boy whose mother is a sex therapist. With the help of a friend, he begins to offer his own, secret therapy sessions to students throughout his school who are struggling with love and relationships.
Within the episodes analyzed, the following product placement can be seen:
- The most mentioned brand is Casio (watches), followed by Apple. Asos and Nike also appear.
- All the product placement is active, meaning that the actors interact with the products.
4. Money Heist (Casa de Papel)
This very successful series that originated in Spain is about a group of people who decide to rob the Spanish Treasury under the orders of a certain "Professor." Their different backgrounds and plots highlight some of the problems in today's society.
When it comes to product placement in this series, the following was found:
- In total there were 50 placements within the 6 episodes that were analyzed.
- The most present brand is Estrella Galicia beer, with 13 mentions. It is followed by BQ and Lenovo.
- There are active, passive, and verbal locations.
5. Stranger Things
This American show takes place in Indiana in the 1980s. After a young boy gets kidnapped, a group of friends searches for answers to his disappearance. Along the way, they have to contend with mysterious supernatural forces.
This show adapted its product placement to the 80s theme of the show. This meant that brands created variations of their products to match the time period.
- Of the brands featured, Coca-Cola and Cadillac were shown the most.
- The third season of this show had approximately 9 minutes of product placement per episode
- Other prominently featured brands were Pentax, Sharp, and 7-Eleven.
As you can see, advertising on Netflix is possible, just in a more indirect way. Product placement is often more influential over time because if a series is popular, it has a good chance of being seen by many generations. "Friends" is the perfect example of this.
The Effectiveness of Product Placement on Netflix
As audiences increasingly embrace streaming, the potential impact of product placement continues to grow. When done well, it can seamlessly integrate brands into the narrative of a show, creating a natural and non-disruptive viewing experience. Moreover, product placement often has a high level of recall, given the immersive nature of content on Netflix. That said, its effectiveness is contingent on several factors, including relevance, integration, and alignment with the target audience's demographics and preferences. When well executed, it can be a powerful tool for brand exposure and recognition.
The Future of Advertising on Netflix
In April 2022, in response to its loss of 200,000 subscribers in its most recent quarter, Netflix announced that it would explore the possibility of including a lower-priced, ad-supported version of the streaming service in the next 1 or 2 years.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hastings justified this decision with the following statement: “Those who have followed Netflix know that I have been against the complexity of advertising, and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said. “But as much as I am a fan of that, I am a bigger fan of consumer choice. And allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price, and are advertising-tolerant, get what they want, makes a lot of sense.”