Event Tech

Events Can Enter the Big League With Virtual Product Placement in 2023

Eventually Learning Team

“If you really think about it, when watching television, you have product placement all the time.” – Jay Chiat.

Do you know the first recorded instance of product placement? According to research by Jean-Marc Lehu in 2007, it dates back to the 1800s when movies produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière were made only at the request of one of the employees at Lever Brothers in France. The films usually featured Sunlight Soap, the first known record of Paid Product Placement in films.

However, in the digital-first age, diminishing billboards have knocked down the traditional methods of product placement. As a result, the rise of events, live streams and OTT platforms are galvanizing advanced advertising techniques like Virtual Product Placement (VPP)!

Even small business events can capitalize on VPP techniques to partner with brands and boost their reach. Scroll further to understand how your events can be the next big deal with VPP.

Traditional Ads Vs. Virtual Product Placement at Events

What does traditional event advertising look like, and is it still relevant? The answer is YES! For example, Häagen-Dazs partnered with Wonderland at Wimbledon to install a photo booth to draw attention to its new limited-edition Strawberry & Cream ice cream. They even called it the “Official ice cream of Wimbledon.”

The campaign was successful and ignited a string of user-generated content on social media channels. But, do you know how to reach millions of audiences at once without breaking the bank?

A recent move by Amazon showcases the effectuality of Virtual Product Placement! In the series starring Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn called ‘Making the Cut,’ Amazon demonstrated a subtle VPP insertion of an M&M’s poster in a scene on Prime Video. What was the impact? Amazon reported that a consumer packaged brand saw a 14.7% jump in its purchase intent after a VPP insertion. Quite the game-changer, right?

Similarly, the VPP gimmick need not necessarily be a post-production move for virtual or hybrid events. For example, during live streams, you can schedule in-stream ads before, after or during your broadcast and monetize them! Likewise, platforms like Facebook enable users to use their Live Producer Dashboard to add in-stream ads under monetization.

For event planners, it’s time to look into how they can partner with global brands to ‘televise’ their products or services in front of the event audiences. VPP could even mean additional revenue streams for organizers!

Will VPP Work for Events?

In all honesty, Virtual Product Placement will explode in the coming years. According to figures published by PQ Media, product placement was evaluated at $23.3 billion in 2021.

Prepping right after Product Placement is its new brainchild - Virtual Product Placement. It is a subtle form of advanced advertising and does not fall under coercive or persuasive advertising, which is rampant these days. As technology proliferates, providing VPP opportunities to brands will become a mandatory event planning objective, just like offering sponsorships.

Most brands will eagerly participate in VPP insertions at events to move away from the overly saturated advertising clutter. It will also become effortless for businesses to reach new target audiences through events.

Fun Fact: Streaming giants Amazon and NBC have placed a column for VPP opportunities for advertisers.

3 Examples of VPP That Are a Part of the New Ad Wave

VPP insertions should be thought of just like the Iceberg Principle in marketing. Since a brand is a multi-faceted notion, you should wisely single out the visible and invisible elements to display a product. Below are some engaging examples of Virtual Product Placement that will help you firmly grasp the reigns of an event VPP insertion campaign.

Eggos in Stranger Things

Who doesn’t love Stranger Things, right?

Eleven, one of the protagonists of the series on Netflix, is obsessed with Eggo Waffles. While the streaming platform aired Season Two of the series in 2017, Eggo noticed a 14% year-on-year increase in its consumption. (Source: Create World Class Marketing)

Mercedes-Benz With Psy in Gangnam Style

VPP of luxury cars in music videos is a widespread occurrence. Even before K-pop was popular, Psy broke the internet in 2012 with his hit Gangnam Style. Can you believe the video hit the the one billion mark in a record time of 58 days? 

The prominent product placement of a shiny red 2012 Mercedes SLK 200 (R172) in the music video is featured in multiple scenes as we move toward the end. So it’s no surprise that the already popular car banked on additional exposure through the viral K-pop song.

Subway in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Video game product placements are growing faster than ever. According to Emarketer, there are 3 billion gamers in the world as of 2022! Due to a broad consumer base, advertisers and brands are trying to leverage video games for VPP insertions.

Subway partnered with the widely popular game Uncharted 3 to showcase the main character Nathan Drake holding a Subway sandwich and a drink. 

The multiplayer game also participated in the cross-promotional activity and gave away exclusive codes for special Uncharted 30oz drinks.

Key Takeaway: All the above examples of Virtual Product Placements can be integrated into event marketing. In the above cases, brands partnered with series, music videos and video games to raise awareness and the likeliness quotient of their brand/products. Similarly, events can partner with B2C companies or B2B to advertise their products or services to their target audiences.

Final Words

Gone are the days of traditional media! Instead, the advent of Virtual Product Placements (VPP) has given rise to a new era of event marketing. Companies like Ryff have also made a mark in the market because they provide AI-based suggestions by analyzing moving image content to inform brands how they can pinpoint spaces to insert products and drive an emotionally stimulating experience for the audience.

VPP is the future of advertising and marketing in events and blends well with contextual relevance. Try it for your upcoming events!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the four major types of product placement?

The four main types of product placement are:
  • On-screen placement
  • Verbal exposure/mention
  • Location/signage exposure
  • Corporate sponsorship


What are the advantages of Virtual Product Placement at events?

The advantages of VPP insertions at events are:
  • It demonstrates naturally how a product/service can be used in real life
  • The product has immense potential to go viral with wide user-generated content on social media
  • It affects the subconscious of the attendees to increase the likeliness/familiarity
  • Boosts the brand recall percentage drastically


Are all Virtual Product Placements paid?

Brands pay a fee from $40k-$300k annually, depending on the desired scope with the agency and, in your case, events. (Source: The Hustle)


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