Product placement may be old hat in the music industry. But, as it turns out, it's piracy proof, too.
To take just one recent example, the Lady Gaga/Beyoncé video "Telephone" featured a brief glimpse of a security guard viewing a dating site called PlentyOfFish.com. Eighty-five million people watched that video on YouTube, enough that PlentyOfFish's traffic rose 20% in the month of the video's debut, writes Zack O'Malley Greenburg of Forbes.
Regardless of whether users pay to download videos or songs, whose lyrics can also feature paid shout-outs to brands, they're still getting the marketing message. And that's good news for both brands and the music labels. "Obviously if the song is pirated, the lyrics aren't going to change," Adam Kluger, CEO of The Kluger Agency, who coordinated PlentyOfFish's involvement in the video, told Greenburg. The trend isn't entirely new, though it appears to be growing. A marketer scored an early coup back in 2001 when he got Jay-Z to mention Motorola in "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)." Kluger figures that paid placements account for fully 5% of all the brands you hear mentioned in song lyrics or see in music videos; others think that percentage is higher. A placement can "easily exceed $200,000," writes Greenburg.
Watch for the relationship between brands and bands to get even more complex, too—with bands Weezer naming their album after clothing line Hurley and Ok Go getting funding for their "This Too Shall Pass" video from State Farm, and Converse opening a Brooklyn recording studio for unsigned bands.