How Product Placement Can Create Publicity

  • Nov 10, 2020


They say there's no such thing as bad PR. Well, that may depend on your point of view, but product placement can create a buzz that equates to an ad or PR spend. 

When you're using promotional products in your marketing, brand exposure—and the ROI that hopefully follows—is the ultimate goal. When it’s free brand exposure, well, that’s even better.

While not a promotional product, this example shows just how a branded item can create exposure, even when it's not about the branded item and even when the circumstances may not be ideal. 

Nestlé Waters benefited from an estimated $641,592 worth of free on-air advertising thanks to two Deer Park Brand Natural Spring Water bottles that were placed on the table near Michael Cohen, former vice president of The Trump Organization and President Trump’s ex-attorney, during a high-profile hearing between Cohen and the House Oversight Committee.The real star of the show, it appears, were his Deer Park water bottles. 

James Robinson, co-founder and partner of ARQ Wealth Advisors in Scottsdale, Arizona, even jokingly tweeted: “You know who benefits the most from today’s testimony from Michael Cohen? Not Trump. Not Mueller. That’s right, @DeerParkWtr,” ending the post with the hash tag #ProductPlacement. The water bottles remained next to Cohen throughout his day-long testimony and talks with committee members. The calculated $600,000 figure was determined by Apex Marketing Group as a result of multi-channel screen time, live streams and press photos.

The value of this exposure speaks volumes about the power of promotional products in garnering sales. Despite being a prominent case involving a powerful political figure, viewers were paying attention to the bottles and their recognizable labels. They cared to know what products were next to Cohen. Even though the bottles were not promotional products but single-use items, the exposure sheds light on the massive influence that promotional products can have. Imagine if this had been a promo product—just as many eyes would have noticed it and remembered the brand. 

In 2008, the Journal of Consumer Research published a study about how often people notice the logos on branded products. The study involved experiments using DASANI water bottles, reporting that participants who were shown photos of people pictured with DASANI were more likely to choose this brand over three other brands, even if they didn’t actually recall noticing the logo or the bottle. This likelihood increased with every photo shown that included a DASANI water bottle. 

Whether it’s a coolie with custom messaging to promote an annual charity event, a wearable tech gadget that tracks footsteps or a fashionable tote imprinted with a logo, the reach of brand exposure is wide-sweeping—and continues for as long as the consumer keeps and remembers the promotional item. As in Nestlé’s case, the opportunity to make a brand statement can also be unprecedented—and wildly successful. 

If you would like to submit information on a successful promotional marketing program or trade show exhibit you worked on with Lev Promotions, please e-mail the program information and a photo of the product to We will choose one to publish each month. This month's case study was adapted from an article written for PPB Magazine in May 2019 by Danielle Renda.

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