Did Jerry Seinfeld Invent Display Advertising?

Carnegie Higher Ed Nov 24, 2014 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Okay, no. Obviously not. But stay with me here. First, let it be known that unlike many of my colleagues, I am not a Seinfeld fan. (I know, I know. You are probably yelling at me right now.) So it pains me to even suggest that Jerry had such a great impact on the world of advertising. But the theory is that Seinfeld was the first big player in TV product placement. Junior Mints, anyone? 

The subtle (or not so subtle) inclusion of a product within the framework of content you respect, enjoy, and engage with is powerful. This does not differ much from the power of a properly placed display ad. Reading an article on health care and seeing a nursing school banner ad to the side of the page is the same concept. Will the person click on the ad? Maybe. But, let’s be honest, most ad impressions are never clicked on. Does that mean the advertisement was all for naught? No, absolutely not. Keep in mind, no product placement on film or TV was ever clicked on—but it still worked.

Need proof? Product placement power has been tested. For example, the Center on Media and Child Health conducted a study with children aged six to 12. After showing them a clip of Home Alone with branded Pepsi products, 62% of the children chose Pepsi over Coke when given the choice following the movie; only 35% of the children in the control group, which did not watch the clip, chose Pepsi when given the choice. Translate this to digital advertising: having your brand placed strategically online—keeping your brand top of mind—can really impact your pool of inquiries, apps, and enrolled students.

So, despite my eye roll at any 11:00 p.m. rerun of Seinfeld, he did help many brands increase visibility and overall recognition. Just as strategic display campaigns can do today. So, next time you see that banner ad, say to yourself: yadda yadda yadda.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What’s your favorite product placement example? Share with me here or hit me up on Twitter @meghdale.

And, just for fun, here’s another classic product placement effort: “Little, Yellow, Different.” Enjoy.

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