Cut Through

Preview image of “Cut Through”
  • A typical film scene – before and after product placement
  • Photo: Mirriad

As product placement shifts with the digital times, one UK company is using AI to insert brands into content – after it’s filmed.

As an insane volume of content vies for our attention, brands are ever seeking ways to best imprint themselves in audiences’ minds. In the era of streaming, however, once films and series are made and distributed, there haven’t been so many opportunities for brands to get stuck in. Fewer and fewer people watch traditional broadcast channels and experience old-school commercial breaks. Hence, the old art of product placement is taking a new turn. Product placement involves subtly advertising to spectators by embedding a brand in a piece of art or content. It goes back a long way, with shipping companies mentioned in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days, Edouard Manet adding Bass beer bottles to his paintings, and Sunlight Soap appearing in Lumière Brothers’ films in the 1890s. In Hollywood this has ranged from the inevitable box of
Cheerios in every kitchen to involvement in the very fabric of the movie, such as General Motors in Transformers, or the Ninja Turtles munching on pizzas from high street brands.

Now, to open up a whole new realm of streaming content for marketing opportunities, UK company Mirriad has developed an AI tool that can place products after the video has already been made. Their tech scans video to identify all kinds of digitally available display opportunities. These could be empty tables or counters for food products, bathroom shelves for beauty, newspaper covers for display ads, and many more. CEO Stephan Beringer uses the term “content consumption canvas” – meaning an effective billboard within the footage. Mirriad is currently working with Chinese giant Tencent and making forays into streaming, and other industries like music. For example, they inserted Mexican beer Tecate throughout a music video from singer Giovanny Ayala – a video that has garnered 2.5 million views. The system is highly flexible, meaning specific viewers can be targeted,
showing different ads based on audience location and online habits, or even time of day. The inserted product could appear in different flavours, or change labels for the different national markets.