Product Placement Produces High ROI

Small medical device firms don’t spend much time worrying about advertising. When working within tight budget constraints, a 30-second spot is a luxury most emerging firms can’t afford. But product placement may be an opportunity for smaller companies to get their products in front of a consumer audience — without breaking the bank.  

Washington CEO magazine today has an article about three Seattle-area firms that have landed their products on Grey’s Anatomy and ER through barter deals with television networks. Philips Medical Systems, Cardiac Science and SonoSite have seen their devices appear on one or both shows and have paid nothing for the honor. “These relationships are basically win-win because these productions need the props, and this helps us to build awareness of our brand,” Philips’s North American CEO Brent Shafer tells Washington CEO. He says it would cost between $7 million and $8 million to buy the equivalent amount of air time to what Philips gets for free each year through product placement barter deals.

Sure, established companies like Philips have the manpower to negotiate these kinds of deals. But it’s something for small companies to consider. Instead of saving pennies for that 30-second spot, perhaps a nominal investment in reallocating marketing resources to focus on barter deals would be a worthwhile investment.  

“The fact is,” Cardiac Science’s VP of marketing, Garry Norris, tells CEO, “when our products appear in the show, we get a lot of e-mail. Customer service gets calls from people saying, ‘I saw your product on Grey’s Anatomy and wanted to learn more about it.’” 

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