Product Placement in Social Media

I don’t watch commercials.

As a marketing professional, it’s a horrible confession to think that the Super Bowl might be the only time I ever purposely watch a 30-second spot. The fast-forward button is probably the most used on my remote as the DVR has made live television — and therefore commercials — obsolete.

If I didn’t watch commercials, why would I create what amounts to a commercial for potential customers to consume? Why blatantly advertise if Generation X consumer — like me — avoid such?

With those thoughts swirling around in my head, then I considered those places where I did see products, whether it be a James Bond movie, a Survivor challenge or a CSI: crime to solve — product placement. Major companies spend big bucks to inject their brands into television shows.

Which gave me an idea.

What if I made entertainment around product placement?

TenCate Protective Fabrics makes flame-resistant textiles for firefighters, utility linemen, electricians, oil & gas workers, military, security, and other professionals who need thermal protection.

As an ingredient in the clothing these professionals wear, brand pull-through would be a tremendous challenge because the garment maker would take precedent. I needed to generate something more compelling than the standard textile tests on screen.

My friends at Super Chief just outside Chattanooga, TN, shared my vision — in fact, they enhanced it with even more ideas. So began the “Prepare for the Impossible” campaign.

To put TenCate fabrics to the ultimate tests, the resulting optics could appear rather tragic. We needed to show off the textiles while giving the viewer an out — a way to suspend belief. By choosing the “impossible” scenarios, like a zombie attack, we could give a story around the products.

The six-part story includes shorter video versions, photos and print advertisements to highlight the products and draw viewers in. And as the story progresses, we’ll even add more details about the products and their attributes.

The campaign also gives TenCate months of materials to engage end users and deliver educational information in a different format than traditionally presented.

I’m curious to hear what you think.

Part 1 of 6

Part 2 of 6

Published by

Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

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