Sam Flemming, founder of the Internet word-of-mouth research firm CIC Data observes in his latest blog entry that while some of the brands that had used the stars involved in the Edison Chen sex photo scandal as spokespeople were scrambling for help (by calling up his company of course) when the scandal broke out, some netizens were “more interested in the brands in the background of the photos than the people themselves”.
He points us to this amazing link on ShanghaiNing.com which puts together all the various brands that
bored teens with nothing better to do internet sleuths have spotted while looking through the thousands of pictures that were released.
While some brands may spend tonnes of money on product placement in big budget movie and TV productions, Flemming astutely suggests a better way might be for brands to leverage on their product presence in hot incidents such as these to promote brand awareness:
While this may or may not be intentional product placement, netizens clearly made a special effort to seek out the brands featured in the popular film and talked about it with fellow users. This is an example of how brands can have an active presence in online discussions around hot topics, such as films. Association with popular films or events, can not only create brand awareness but can also form a stronger association between the brand and spokesperson/celebrities.
Brands should leverage these types of opportunities to promote brand awareness (i.e. facilitating the spread of the existing buzz around brand information) when sponsoring hot incidents or when associated with incidents or popular events by chance.(Of course, the Edison Chen case is not the case that brands necessarily want to be attached to.)