For the longest time fashion houses, like Burberry, Gucci, Prada and Versace have really clung to high gloss, high production, editorial-style content, featuring other-worldly beauties, in conceptual campaigns around their collections.
Presumably in an attempt to protect their status in high fashion by creating content that feels in line with that.
The problem with this approach is, it doesn't perform well on social media.
The data and insights very clearly show that consumers, across demographics and socio-economic statuses, respond a LOT more to content that fits within the native style of the platform.
native content = natural to the platform, the way regular users create content and what people expect to see.
People want to see content that is entertaining, educational, relatable or inspiring.
But most of all they want to see content that is *real*.
All of which, are lacking from these abstract, editorial campaigns of years gone by.
Put bluntly, traditional designer content is boring, un-engaging and entirely unhelpful to the shopper (not to mention outrageously expensive to make).
The Burberry x Hunter Prosper collaboration explained
We were excited to recently come across the most *chefs kiss* social media collaboration between long time design powerhouse, Burberry, and solo, absolutely non-designer-y, TikTok and Instagram creator Hunter Prosper.
Hunter Prosper became a viral sensation through his vox pop interview series 'Stories From A Stranger' where he asks random people on the street poignant life questions like 'Who was your first love and why did you fall in love with them?' (like this one).
These are filmed on the street, using a regular iPhone, with zero production and just some very basic (but wonderfully engaging) editing.
In the Burberry x Hunter Prosper collaboration, the individuals featured in the interviews can be seen wearing Burberry coats and jackets (gifted by the brand) and Burberry is simply tagged in the caption.
There is no talk of the coats or jackets, there is no list of features, there is no brand or promo plug and, best of all, no bizarre, abstract concepts that make no sense to anyone.
Nothing about the content changes from the rest of Hunter Prosper's videos.
Because its a winning formula.
Here's a comparison of the views received on the collaboration content vs. traditional campaign content.
The collaboration videos consistently received views into the MILLIONS, whereas the campaign content performed worse than the random video I posted of my dog last month.
Why product placement can yield better results than using a sponsored brief
Put simply, injecting any kind of #ad element into this content would ruin it.
And, as a result, the engagement would tank.
Which would then void the whole point of riding on the back of Hunter's virality.
It could also potentially damage the creators reputation which makes it a poor partnership and one that's not likely to be repeated or yield great results.
Burberry understood the assignment.
Instead of hijacking the video, they opted for a simple insertion of their product, in a natural (yet highly visible) way that doesn't interrupt the perfected content recipe.
This collaboration is such a beautiful example of using product placement in native style entertainment content to generate intrigue and brand interest through simply tagging them, as well as, product-specific desire by showing a real, unedited visual of a product being worn - without turning the content into an ad.
It also has another tier of benefit for Burberry, developing on-platform brand credibility and cultural relevance. Which is unbelievably important for long term brand sustainability through generations.
This self-awareness and low key approach that understands what TikTok is and what people want *instantly* makes Burberry much cooler.
It also immediately separates them from the other design houses who have failed to adapt to social media platforms and upcoming generations preferred style of content and continue to force their outdated conceptual campaigns, despite below par results.
How you can use product placement
Any business can use this concept. Literally.
In fact, it's so god damn easy because you don't even need to come up with a viral concept you simply find people (or even other brands) who are already creating amazing content that your audience would love (doesn't need to be related to what you sell, just audience related) and then figure out how to get your product into the content.
Food/beverage: Getting someone to drink your drink or eat your food product while creating their usual content (e.g. have it sitting on a desk if it's a Youtube podcast)
Beauty: Sponsoring makeup artists and providing them with a makeup brush set to use in all of their tutorials. Sponsoring content creators in other niches (e.g. lifestyle, fashion) and getting them to use the product in their usual content (e.g. grwm for an event, putting on your lipstick not mentioning it but tagging you below with the product name)
Fashion: Sponsoring funny TikTokers who are similar to your customer base to wear your clothes while doing their normal skits, memes and entertaining content.
Venue: Sponsoring local creators to come and create their own style of content at your venue. e.g. a bar thats aimed at cocktail-loving females 20-35, team up with a cocktail content creator to do a series cocktail tutorials at your venue.
The key is not to mess with the content but to find a way to incorporate your product or service into content that is relevant to your key, target audience.
How do we know this works?
All you have to do is go and read the comment thread of any popular creator and see how many people ask what they're wearing, where they are, where to buy a product that's in the video but not being featured etc.
What we want to do is answer that question simply by tagging the brand and potentially naming a product in the caption or if it can be done as part of the concept (if not, don't force it).
It will not only drive traffic to your social pages and website but also help you reach new people who may not come across your regular content and increase interest in your brand because you're doing something unusual that strikes up their curiosity, rather than shoving an ad down their throat.
How we use product placement on our style TikTok
One of the things we wanted to do at SZN was have our own media platform where we could build a curated audience of Australian females who love fashion and style. We also wanted to experiment more with TikTok to help inform client content strategies.
In May, 2022, we set up @sznofstyle a style inspiration account designed to help women shop online by showcasing outfits being worn by real people in real world settings.
One of the biggest barriers to purchase with online shopping is that 99% of the time there is just 3-4 photos of an unrealistic model in a studio setting.
Which leaves the question 'what does this actually look like on a real person in real life and in motion?' completely unanswered, therefore, making a purchasing decision very difficult.
We do at-home and in-store clothing hauls with popular and up-and-coming brands and also have a popular street style interview series where we chat to stylish women we find on the streets of Melbourne.
Because one of our content themes is based around trying on and reviewing clothes it makes it really easy for a brand to slot into that content simply by supplying the clothes we try on.
We also don't allow scripted or directive briefs for our TikTok partnership hauls, to ensure that the content remains untainted by #ad vibes and feels just like all of our other well-loved content.
Which is ultimately for the benefit of the brand because the fact that people love the content itself, ensures it gets more reach and engagement and also instantly creates a positive association to the brand and products.
Street Style Interview Product Placement
We've been looking to get a brand involved with our consistently well-performing street style interviews for a while now (like this one which has over 160k completely organic views).
We originally tried out a concept that had a typical sponsored ad product spiel at the end but we found that these videos really didn't do as well and the ad segment was so jarring tacked on the end of a very raw, unscripted piece of content like an interview with a stranger on the street.
So, instead we have two options that we make available to brands:
Gifting for our interviewees - Sponsors can pay a bundle rate for 5+ videos to become a gifting partner on our street style interview series - providing samples that we give to each interviewee as a 'Thank You' for taking part. This then becomes a natural and heart warming part of the interview, while also offering us a few seconds to talk about the product in a non #ad way.
Sponsor the hosts - This one is ideal for a clothing or accessory brand who can sponsor the interviewers outfit or a portion of it. In this scenario the outfit would be worn by our host as they conduct the street style interviews, offering a highly visible product placement opportunity throughout each interview video. A bundle rate of 5 videos min. would apply as that's how many we tend to film in a session and also ensures the brand gets enough touch points with our audience to make an impression.
Want to get involved in our TikTok content?
Shoot through an email to email@example.com with some details about your brand, product and target audience and let's see if its a match