Message development and product placement can make or break the success of a product or trustworthiness of a brand. In the age of Facebook and vlogging, strategic communicators have an array of platforms to push messaging and allow for social media platforms such as YouTube or Instagram to be a tool for product placement and guerilla marketing. Opinion leaders and influencers are given products at a discounted rate (or even for free) to talk about quality and value. With social media, grassroots efforts are made to draw momentum around a product, and consumers are more trusting of a person that looks and lives like them over a celebrity that could be a paid endorser. Aside from the typical, in-your-face product placement and overt push to buy, strategic communicators must innovate the way they reach the masses. One trend that has seemed to become more prevalent across the industry is selling a product based on the emotions it evokes or emphasizing product loyalty. Two brands that immediately come to mind are Publix Supermarkets and Nike. The lack of product placement is what has drawn me to these three brands. These three companies effectively sell consumers on their brand as a whole and not just a specific item.
Each year around major holidays, I am brought to tears by the commercials Publix Supermarket releases. Product placement is not exclusive to branded cups lined across a counter in a movie scene, but also the timing around messages. During the holidays, we have more time in front of the television and to reflect on what we value most—family. None of the scenes are set in a store or explicitly display the Publix name, but I somehow know “where shopping is a pleasure” and that’s because of the attachment created when watching Publix commercials.
Now I do not think to wear Nike will give me the abilities of the athletes that wear their clothes and shoes, but I am always moved by consistent messaging. More importantly, large corporations have a social responsibility to the public and it how they navigate this messaging that strengthens the following. As more celebrities use their platforms for social activism, large corporations frequently shy away. However, in the most recent campaign, Nike aligned with Colin Kaepernick amidst his tumultuous journey with the National Football League as he continues to advocate for people of color against police brutality. Above all, Nike stands to promote what is right over what is the popular opinion.
So how do we as strategic communicators educate in real-time? With most, if not all, journalism and communication texts being out-of-date the moment they are printed, the digital content created must also serve as a framework to follow the changes in the industry. Studying the data that coincides with a digital campaign will give us insight into what makes messaging effective or not. As the digital space consumes traditional methods of advertising, we cannot forget that social media platforms and some websites follow an algorithm that can skew targeted figures. A new focus of the industry is how to maneuver these systems to identify the strengths and weaknesses of messaging. What that career path entails will create a new avenue of careers and innovate how we advertise in the future.