How a dog and a brand became celebs in Chile

The campaign objective of global marketers have moved on from exposure to engagement - and sometimes throwing a dog in the mix can be a good thing!

Tyrone Tellis September 13, 2010
Some people say marketing and advertising are going to the dogs - that may not necessarily be a bad thing! A while back I saw a very  simple but creative idea in an Adage video with Martin Lindstrom - something he called ‘doggy placement.’

Lindstrom is a marketing guru with a global following and outreach. He partners with Adage to showcase interesting and offbeat marketing tactics from around the world. The doggy placement idea is one he found in Chile. A local dog food firm called Master was thinking up a new way to get their brand onto a popular daily reality show. The usual way would be to have the product placed in the show, right? What they did was integrate a dog named Master into the show's cast. Simple but brilliant!

Their novel idea was a hit. The dog and the brand became celebrities in the country. It succeeded because it followed the first of Lindstrom’s guides to brand placement:
1) Ensure your product is essential and relevant to the story.

That’s rule number one, the other two are:
2) Ensure your product becomes and remains the hero of the plot.

3) Ensure your product’s image remains homogenous over various touch-points.

Smart product placement in Pakistan

What about marketers and advertising people especially media professionals in our own market? Can they follow at least one if not all three guides? Looking at the current trend of over the top and in your face advertising that pushes generic communication messages I can hardly answer yes. If ever there was ad overkill it’s what we are served up daily by our marketers.

Seeing low calorie milk being drunk by a fitness expert after working out on a leading morning show is what I would call savvy media usage. However if in the same setting you have the fitness expert exercising in front of a freezer  full of your low cal milk- the kind you only see in stores and not in home settings is to be frank moronic.

The three neglected stakeholders

The idea is awful, because while it creates visibility and perhaps recall it fails to add value to any of the three groups involved in any media deal the brand, the channel or even the long suffering audience. Many marketers and media broadcasters fail to take into account the impact (or lack of) of such foolish acts on the all important viewer. When considering a media idea the media agency or the ad agency and the channel sales/marketing staff need to weigh it on the criterion –does this add value to all three groups? How will this benefit the brand, how will it affect the channel’s image and reputation and how will viewers react?

Engaging with content in films

All over the world the campaign objective of marketers have moved on or rather have been forced to move on from exposure to engagement. Here we seem to be oblivious to all such paradigm shifts in the real sense.

That’s not to say that our Pakistani marketers are the only ones who seem to be desperate for product placement. In fact we I think haven’t really touched the area of product placement enough. Globally there is product placement on both the big and small screen- cinema as well as TV. Here we’ve had a few forays into TV placement- daily soaps on our channels are relatively brand free and the bad state of Lollywood means most brands don’t venture into local cinema releases.

In the US recent blockbuster movie Transformers 2 a grand total of 50 brands made an appearance including  Adidas, Audi and Stella Artois . This year according to the leading cameo vrand is Apple which appeared in 6 movies this summer- A Nightmare on Elm Street, Iron Man 2, Kick-Ass, The Other Guys, Toy Story 3 and Valentine's Day.

Did you notice the Apple in these movies while watching? Interestingly General Motors was the official partner of Transformers 2 but Audi managed to get its R8 in. How? According to Businessweek they approached a global product placement firm intimate with the film's director Michael Bay. The firm convinced Bay to take the Audi R8 as the ‘villain’ car and even beat out GM as the only car to feature in the T2 Super Bowl commercial.

India jumps on the bandwagon

Across the border in India too recently we’ve seen progress in terms of product placement. Hit flick 3 idiots had worked in brand appearances by Aquafina even though Aamir Khan is a spokesperson for Coke (as well as Fortis Hospital and Titan). Another big winner was Mahindra scooters which managed to get their newly launched Flyte incorporated into the script.

Speaking of scripts apparently that’s the fast track being used by marketers in the US, instead of approaching a director or a studio they target the script writers. Of course they are very careful about placing the right brand in the right movie as they know the repercussions for a bad strategic fit in terms of public disapproval.

Less is more (sometimes)

I believe in and it appears so does Martin Lindstrom in a philosophy of ‘less is more’ and being subtle. It’s better to err on the side of caution rather than go over the top when getting your brand placed in media. I think that our audience finds illogical product placements with overt tones a nuisance and a new form of clutter.

However without proper research we really can’t say whether Pakistanis believe in subtle or overt product placements. There are markets which favour the in your face tactics. Audiences in China for instance, according to an article don't mind the overt product plugging done in one of the popular local shows- an Ugly Betty clone. This key piece of insight was used by Unilever China for its brand Dove. The idea was entered in the famous Valencia Festival of Media 2009.

They succeeded because they knew the audience’s threshold was very high- in fact one scene about Dove crossed two episodes and 50 minutes! They also remembered to have a strategic fit between the brand  message and the show. They also considered how the audience would be affected. Something our marketers can well ignore in their exposure gaining frenzy. For now here in Pakistan all viewers can do is be content to mourn that advertising is sadly going to the dogs.
Tyrone Tellis An advertising professional who specializes in media planning. During his six years in the industry he has worked on accounts like the Johnsons and Johnson's baby range, Linkdotnet, PIA, Engro Fertilizer and Rose Petal
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


You Know Who I Am | 13 years ago | Reply @Tyrone Tellis the problem with following someone else's guide is that they are not always compatible and practical every where! To be honest and with no disrespect to you beloved guiding principles, and with all due respect, marketing is not always as conservative as to be only composed of the three principles! it is beautiful, much more creative, very innovative than what you could put on and yet always pointed at whenever something happens! having said that, marketers in Pakistan don;t really need to only follow your glowing principles as a solution. What they need is s better understanding of the people that exist in the markets and a better prespective and if that is accomplished, principles or no principles, marketing could be turned into the very exciting tool that it was meant to be again!
Amina Ansari | 13 years ago | Reply i would not advise consuming so called healthy products unless they have been endorsed by one of the following leading fitness experts in pakistan: Salina Taqi - expert in Zen Yoga Nasir sahib - Inamulah's protoge Gohar Gul - expert in Energy Systems & Muay Thai Babar Khan - expert in power training & power yoga Sara Magsi - Babar Khan's protoge
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