By Jorge Vergara, on 15 September 2020
The traditional model for advertising on TV is changing. Netflix has become one of the largest sources of entertainment for consumers today, but with no advertising spots marketers and advertisers need to be aware of the different formats that work best in this channel.
In this article, we’ll give an overview of how product placement on Netflix works, including the different types and examples. This is based off of the study done by Celia Díaz Muñoz at the University of Seville.
Product Placement on Netflix
For users, Netflix offers a large catalog of movies, series, and programs streaming free of advertising. But advertising does in fact exist on the platform, you just need a good eye to pick up on it: product placement.
With product placement, the product becomes one more element of the plot. Often viewers respond indifferently or even positively, since it does not interrupt their experience and does not relate it to the classic TV commercials.
However, despite its discretion, product placement on Netflix is a market that moves big numbers: "in almost all Netflix series, the choice of products that are shown on screen is made after payment by the interested party. If Frank Underwood uses a smartphone, be assured that the second one on which he has appeared has been quite expensive for the manufacturer. Specifically, according to the study in question, the figures are between $50,000 and $500,000 per appearance.” (Álvarez, 2017)
It is interesting to note that some series are not suitable for product placement, for example, because they are set in the past. This makes the price of those that are suitable even higher.
Within the analyzed series, 4 main types of product placement were found:
- Verbal Placement: the product is named, but the actors do not manipulate or 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 manipulate the product.
- Hyperactive placement: the characters manipulate the product and also make explicit reference to it.
Analysis of product placement in the Netflix series
Diaz's work carries out a content analysis of the presence of products in five international Netflix series. The analysis takes six chapters of each series, located at the beginning, middle and end of the season. We’ve examined the main conclusions to understand the presence of brands on the platform.
In this Spanish series, Paquita Salas is a talent representative. When her lead actress leaves the agency, she is forced to find herself again, both personally and professionally.
In terms of product placement, the analysis reveals the following data:
- In total, there are 82 product locations within the 6 chapters analyzed, making it the series with the most brand presence in the study.
- The most widely placed brand is Apple, with 44 appearances in total, both active and passive.
- The remaining appearances focus on soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and sports brands.
- Within the series, the 4 types of placements mentioned above are used: verbal, active, passive and hyperactive.
Sense 8 is an American science fiction series in which 8 strangers from different parts of the world discover that they have a very special connection and must work together to find out what is behind it.
Let's look at the main facts about product placement:
- There are a total of 58 locations in the 6 chapters analyzed.
- The brand with the largest presence is HP (8 placements), followed by Porsche and Apple.
- The brands with the greatest presence are cars, computers and beverages.
- There are passive, active and verbal sites.
This American romantic comedy explores male and female perspectives on relationships through Gus and Mickey, two very different strangers who happen to meet.
As for the product placements in the series, these are worth noting:
- There are a total of 79 product appearances in the 6 chapters analyzed.
- The most widely placed brand is Apple, which appears a total of 18 times, followed by Samsung (5 appearances). The presence of Honda, Redbull, Converse, Nike and Adidas also stands out.
- There are sites of the 4 types mentioned, although with more presence of assets and liabilities.
Otis is a 16 year old teenager who has no problem solving his concerns about sexuality, since his mother is a sexologist. With the help of a classmate, they spread this type of information to classmates throughout the school. The series is of British origin.
Within the episodes analyzed, we find the following data on product placement:
- There are 12 locations in total, the lowest number among the series analyzed.
- The most mentioned brand is Casio (watches), followed by Apple. Asus and Nike also appear.
- All the sites that appear are active (the actors use the product but do not mention it).
Money Heist (La Casa De Papel)
Finally, this very successful Spanish series on Netflix is about a group of people who decide to rob the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre de España (Spanish Mint) under the orders of a certain "Professor". Their plots highlight some of the problems of today's society.
These are the most remarkable data about product placement:
- In total there are 50 placements within the 6 chapters analyzed.
- The most present brand is Estrella Galicia, with 13 mentions. It is followed by BQ and Lenovo.
- There are active, passive and verbal locations.
As you can see, advertising on Netflix is possible, only in a more indirect way, but basically more credible and lasting over time. Because if the series is successful, it will surely be seen by many generations, as it happened with Friends, whose product placement continues to impact us today.