The popular Internet drama, “Lonelygirl15,” has taken a step forward in its web series by heightening its reality through product placement. A new character posing as a Neutrogena scientist, has been added to the cast, defining a new integration of product placement.
Creators Greg Goodfried and Miles Beckett have signed a two-month promotional deal with the Johnson ‘ Johnson skincare brand, which will allow their web series to promote Neutrogena by having a branded character join the ensemble cast. Although no specific product will be promoted throughout the series, both Beckett and Goodfried admit that having a branded character working for Neutrogena will only enhance the reality standpoint of the show.
“This type of integration actually allows us to achieve even more reality for our show,” creators Goodfried and Beckett told the associated press. “The most important thing is telling a compelling story. In this instance, the story line comes first and the fact that the new character works at Neutrogena heightens the reality.”
By having a character represent the brand name Neutrogena, Johnson ‘ Johnson skincare brand hope sto attract more consumers through the audience members of “Lonelygirl15,” which consists of teens and young adults in their early twenties. Creators of the web drama have chosen the product placement strategy as a way to “pay the bills.” In March, creators signed a one-episode deal with Hershey Co., which featured the main character, Bree, chewing Icebreakers Sours Gum.
The plot of “Lonelygirl15” is based on a 16-year-old girl by the name of Bree, who chose to broadcast the dramas of her life through web videos. The series, which began in June of 2006, now has over 200 episodes that viewers can watch on the web. A few months after its inception, viewers soon discovered that the show was only a hoax, as Bree turned out to be a fictional character with writers who produced the show. This discovery only made the show more popular as audiences continued to support the web series.
Dani Harter, a marketing and business major at Antelope Valley College, believes that Neutrogena’s product placement deal with the web series “Lonelygirl15” is a strategic move that will strongly benefit Neutrogena itself.
“The show’s audience consists mainly of young teens who are primarily females,” said Harter. “A company like Neutrogena is looking for that same exact target audience. By advertising in the Internet media, they are now going to get the consumers they want from all corners.”
While having a branded character represent a type of product or brand name seems to be new in the media, product placement has existed for many years, consistently in movies such as the most notable “E.T.,” where Reese’s Pieces was a product shown throughout the film.
According to PQ Media, a consulting firm that tracks the product placement market, Product placement marketing has skyrocketed 16.3% annually since 1999. The firm also says that product placement’s growth comes at the advertising market’s expense, as marketers transfer expenses away from advertising to other sources of advertising, such as product placement.
Product placement spending in media, such as video games and the Internet, is growing faster than films in that more audience members are taking part in these media, according to PQ Media.
Viewers can now view web episodes of “Lonelygirl15” consisting of the Neutrogena scientist who will help Bree and her friends find a friend who may have been held against her will, a plot that will continue throughout a two-month period.