Brand References and Music Videos

Friday, February 4, 2011

In recent years, marketers have begun to integrate product placement into popular TV shows, video games, movies and music. While many of these subtle advertising opportunities are the collaborative work of producers and marketers, it is sometimes the work of the artists themselves.

Janee Burkhalter, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, says for popular musicians, the use of branded products is more often a means of connecting with their audience than it is a deliberate marketing technique.

“People believe that music is truth,” says Burkhalter. “So when an artist uses a branded product in their lyrics or music video, their fans think the artist is sharing a part of themselves or their culture with the audience. It’s assumed that the artist uses those products in their own everyday life.”

Research has shown what sets this apart from product placement in TV shows and video games is that people can be introduced to new brands through lyrics and music videos, where in other media, the products advertised are usually well-known and recognizable.

“Most research focuses on products that are already out there. What we’ve seen with our research is that people who like a certain artist come to trust him or her, and they’re likely to try new products that the artist recommends through their music.”

While this theory suggests that marketers for new products may be wise to explore product placement in the music industry, Burkhalter stresses the importance of authentic use.

“If people start to believe that the artist is using brand names in order to get accommodations from companies, it could turn them away from both the artist and the brand.”

Media Contact

Burkhalter can be reached for comment at, 610-660-2274 or by calling University Communications at 610-660-1355.

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