“Undercover Boss”: here’s a brilliant case of product placement!

We often deal with product placement, even describing the evolution of such a marketing tool. It’s an actual and inspiring topic to study.

We pointed out many times how communication is changing in depth. There are new critical issues to face, as well as new opportunities to catch.

Product placement aims at enhancing brands from the emotional side, through storytelling.

In recent years, products and brands have been made the center of attention in product placement campaigns. This means that they have increasingly gained a key-role within the stories which are told. However, it’s worth noting that the presence of specific products and brands within the stories cannot be overwhelming.

We can recall the case of “Undercover Boss”. I really support this show. It’s very interesting.

The show is based on the founder or CEO of a company, who is dressed as a normal worker for a week, in order to get in touch deeply with his workers and with the market.

Every day the “undercover boss” is called to play a different role (not managerial activities, but operative ones), under the supervision of a different leader, who is one of his workers. Each “leader for a day” will show the undercover boss how to play a certain role and he will judge his work, even recalling his attention on the mistakes he can make.

The supposed unaware workers involved in a sort of “experiment” are told that it’s a reportage about work. When the week finishes the undercover boss returns to his leading role and make all the workers he has met on the field go or report to his office as soon as possible in order to talk with them. They clearly don’t have any idea why their leader wants to meet them / them to meet and talk with them so urgently.

Once they get to the company, they find themselves in front of their boss, who has come back to his real identity and image.

Now , the “good, honest and sweet” boss (this must probably be the way he must end up to appear…) explains to his workers why he decided to go “to the field”. Sometimes he ends up being moved. Other times he reproaches some of his workers. However, this occurs very few times and never in a really rough way. Instead, he often rewards his workers, with donations, advancements or another kind of bonus. This way, they become sorts of special employees.

It doesn’t seem casual that the workers involved in such a show are often special people and wonderful workers, who are loyal to their company, act perfectly or, at least, have a special talent to be valued. Being so, even if they make some mistakes, no problems, because they can improve and become perfect workers…

It’s also worth noting that they always have to struggle with tremendous issues; diseases, loneliness, economic troubles and so forth in their life, outside the company.

This “playground” represents a unique “set” for the boss, who can help his workers turn their lives into something completely different, even special.

Here and there, during the show, the corporate name and/or the brands of the company come to the light…

This always occurs in a “soft”, but clear way, as the tool of product placement suggests. That is to say, in the end, all watchers are led to understand which company or products the show has talked about. However, they don’t have to perceive the show as something similar to a commercial.

However, we can say that, in the end, the communication reaches it’s goal, strongly and clearly!

We might ask; “what is the goal of the show?” What kind of messages have to emerge?

They are as follows:

1) the company led by “the boss”, is a company with heart

2) the company is made of people who are very committed and determined to do their best, for customers and for the piece of society they live in

3)  the goods or services made by the firm are top-quality, because they come from the passion, care and commitment of everybody in the company

I argue that everything in this show is carefully planned and set up. Moreover, much is involved, so the company cannot take too many risks… Everything has to be managed; no way out.

In essence, we can argue that everything (for example, people who will take a role in the show and the kind of moments of truth which will occur) is decided in advance by the show producer and the companies which are involved. In order to take part in the show, the companies most likely are asked for huge investments.

Moreover, could companies go for other similar chances to reach to the hearts of their audience? It is not so easy to do…

So, you too, have a look at the show and let me know what do you think about it!

Fulvio for Experyentya