No, you’re not crazy. There was not a Grand Marnier sign in that music video the last time you watched it. And there might not be one there the next time you watch it.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, brands are finding new locations to make a statement. That’s why MirriAd recently struck a deal with Universal Music Group to retroactively place its clients’ ads in already produced music videos.
Global managing director for French agency Havas, Dominique Delport, explained to Rolling Stone why brands are working so hard to come up with new ways to be a part of the conversation.
"We know that millenials have different behaviors: Thirty-five percent of them don't watch broadcast TV anymore, and 90 percent of those who watch replay TV are skipping ads," Delport said. "We do think that quality video inventory is still an issue and only a small part of all of YouTube is advertiser-friendly. Creating engagement through brand presence within the content itself is incredibly relevant."
The obvious difference between traditional retroactive product placement is that traditional product placement inserts a brand during production. Retroactive product placement advertisements are inserted into the video during the post-production process. But that’s not where the differences end.
Retroactive product placement ads can be inserted, removed or replaced instantly. They can be easily localized. For instance, one person in London could be watching the same video as a person in Mumbai, but both of them could see different retroactively placed advertisements.
Brands have been retroactively placing their products in television shows for several years, but this is the first time the concept has been integrated into music videos. While there is naturally some discussion in the music community about what it all means for artistic integrity, it's a new route to revenue.
Universal is the only label currently using the tactic, but other major labels seem interested. MirriAd COO Ted Mico told Rolling Stone that MirriAd is negotiating "with all the obvious partners" in order to expand.
Musicians have been looking for new sources of income since the days of Napster. It might not be many bands’ dream to do their thing in front of a digitally created Grand Marnier billboard, but it beats playing for spare change while fretting that nobody pays for music anymore.