OPINION

Word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of advertising

Influencing buyer behaviour with a simple chime

Marketers and businesses the world over will quote the effectiveness of word-of-mouth advertising (WOM).

For example, 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising and 74 per cent of consumers identify WOM as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.

Even 55 per cent of craft beer drinkers said they would buy a beer they have never heard of if it was recommended by someone they knew.

The data is overwhelming - the problem that a business has is how do they run a marketing campaign based on WOM?

Lucien Hubbard had no idea of those statistics but in 1927 when he produced the movie that won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture, he innately understood that the next best thing to a recommendation from a friend was a recommendation from someone you knew. The film was paid to feature Hershey's chocolates. This started a long tradition of product placements in movies and television shows.

Hershey's paid $1 million to be the candy of choice for E.T. and within two weeks of the release of the film, sales increased by more than 100 per cent.

Tom Cruise wore Ray-Ban's Wayfarer sunglasses in Risky Business and sales went from 18,000 to 360,000 the year after the movie's release. Buoyed by this success, Wayfarers ended up appearing in 60 different films and TV shows and within three years, sales climbed to 1.5 million a year.


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When Mini Coopers were used in The Italian Job, sales increased by 22 per cent.

James Bond has been responsible for countless sales of Aston Martins over the years but when the seventeenth 007 film, GoldenEye, broke ranks and used a BMW Z3, 9000 orders were received in the month after the film's release. The Z3 had not even been released at that stage.

Three years after his initial success, Tom Cruise was at it again in Top Gun with Ray-Ban's Aviator sunglasses which boosted sales by 40 per cent and then seven years later his beverage of choice in The Firm was Red Stripe beer with a 50 per cent increase the result.

Many people would be familiar with various product placements by Apple. The tech giant was the first company to flip the logo on the back of their notebook to make it appear the right way up from a viewer's perspective! Apple has now taken it to an entirely new level.

Apple TV+ is a streaming service that launched in November 2019 by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston. It already has 40 million subscribers. When you own the streaming service and you own the content, you can dictate terms.

A recent analysis showed that in a random selection of 74 episodes of popular shows on the service, there were over 700 Apple product placements. In one episode of Ted Lasso alone, Apple products featured 36 times.

The placements involve seeing Apple products being used by the characters, hearing distinctive Apple chimes when a text message is received, for example, or intertwining the placement in to the plot.

In Ted Lasso, the main character mentions that he is going to FaceTime a member of his family and even makes a mental note of buying some Apple stock. If you are a villain in one of these shows though, you can forget it! The bad guys only get to use non-branded or competing products!

I better go now. I need to drink some San Pellegrino sparkling water before putting on my Nike equipment and going for a ride on my Trek.

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist, futurist and host of the Tech Talk podcast.
This story Influencing buyer behaviour with a simple chime first appeared on The Canberra Times.