While being out West last week it took us a few days to figure out that what looked like a bunch of Buddhist monks were in fact people promoting the AXE deodorant. After we figured it out and felt comfortable approaching them, we got a small bottle of snake peel shower scrub with absolutely no directions, causing my 11 year old son to ask me whether he should just put it under his arms or over his whole body.
My first reaction was that of a failed marketing campaign – nobody really wants to deal with religious monks when on vacation, and if you did figure it out, you ended up with a product which the target audience did not know how to use.
But then I read in Business Week (requires subscription) that this is in fact part of an “extreme” product placement campaign – one that includes product vendors like Unilever to produce original content for cable TV. In this case Unilever “put together two specials built around its AXE Shower body wash: The Gamekillers on MTV and Exposing the Order of the Serpentine on SpikeTV.”
As it turns out, and according to Business Week, “sometimes producing a show gives advertisers more bang for the buck.” The cost of producing and placing a 30 second spot vs. producing a half hour show can be be in the same ballpark. And networks like advertiser-generated content as the advertisers “foot the entire production cost of the show or pay for a portion and agree to buy big blocks of advertising on other shows in return.”
I am still not sure about the monks being a success…