Product Placement

by Peter on March 18, 2003 @ 5:44 a.m. PST

JAM International Partners, Inc. announced plans today to begin testing video game product placement effectiveness on behalf of its clients seeking to validate the power of this medium for brand communication. Working on an independent, third party basis with University of Wisconsin Assistant Professor Michelle R. Nelson, a leading academic researcher in the field of video game and film product placement, the quantitative research promises to be the first of its kind to be commissioned by a triumvirate of companies working in partnership on a product placement deal.

According to Michael Oxman, Managing Director of JAM International Partners' Chicago office, brand companies that have been involved in or interested in video-game product placements to date have been clamoring for quantitative research findings to validate its effectiveness. However, because the industry is still considered to be in its infancy, albeit growing at a very rapid rate, little has been done beyond the groundbreaking research that's been conducted and published in recent months by Professor Nelson. That research, according to Professor Nelson, first appeared for public consumption in the March/April 2002 issue of the Journal Of Advertising Research, in an article entitled "Recall of Brand Placements in Computer and Video Games".

In Professor Nelson's first phase of research, which explored the effectiveness of brands placed only in a car racing game, she found that brands demonstrated recall superiority when they were a major part of game play or relevant to the consumer. When asked their attitudes toward product placements, game players were generally positive, indicating that they did not consider the practice deceptive and that brands can enhance game-realism. Open-ended comments revealed that players' attitudes, however, depended upon the game genre and how and where the brand appeared. According to Professor Nelson, "We've only just begun to understand the effectiveness of brand placements in video games, and are pleased to have the opportunity to further our learning through actual games being developed for consumers on a large scale, versus ones created largely for testing in a laboratory setting".

Mr. Oxman, a former advertising agency executive with Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago, said his company has been aggressively exploring the whole area of product placement effectiveness for quite some time, but repeatedly came up dry because so little was known in the industry.

JAM International Partners has entered into discussions between an undisclosed major video game publisher and a leading consumer brand company to create a series of video game product placements that would undergo stringent quantitative testing to validate their effectiveness. According to Joshua Graff, Managing Director of JAM International Partners' London office, "the response by our partners to this whole idea of research in conjunction with Professor Nelson has been fantastic. The goal is to develop a body of learning that will help us understand what type of brand placements are most effective, looking at a whole array of variables, from the genre of the game itself to the role and prominence of the brand within the game". Though the companies are not at liberty to divulge specific information about the arrangement at the present time, they expect that details of the research study will be revealed later this year at E3, the world's largest computer and video games exposition, to be held May 13-16 in Los Angeles.

This initiative by JAM International Partners continues to put the company at the forefront of the industry at a time when in-game product placement is really taking off. According to Andrew Ross, Managing Director of JAM International Partners' New York office, "the explosive growth of video and computer games, which now account for more than $10.0 billion in sales in the United States alone, coupled with the never-ending quest by companies to make their brands more visible to young consumers, is making in-game product placement the most sought after and desirable new form of brand communication". In fact, Forrester Research predicts that video game product placements will generate a staggering $705 million by 2005.

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