BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Product placement is the purposeful incorporation of commercial content into noncommercial settings, that is, a product plug generated via the fusion of advertising and entertainment. While product placement is riskier than conventional advertising, it is becoming a common practice to place products and brands into mainstream media, including films, broadcast and cable television programs, computer and video games, blogs, music videos/DVDs, magazines, books, comics, Broadway musicals and plays, radio, Internet, and mobile phones.

To reach retreating audiences due to increasing ways of avoiding television advertising, advertisers increasingly use product placements in clever and effective ways that do not cost too much money. Marketing practices raise a number of familiar issues. At a macro-level, there are issues of sustainability and waste of resources through over-consumption. Marketing, and especially marketing communication, are often implicated in such arguments on the basis that their activities encourage over-consumption by fostering greed and materialism. Since marketing operates at the hub of the wealth creation it attracts, by default, much of the general criticism directed at capitalism concerns the erosion of natural resources and the destruction of the environment.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Advertising and promotion possibly attract the keenest public criticism of all because they represent the most visible aspect of marketing. At a micro-level, marketing attracts many criticisms for specific cases of deceit or subterfuge, such as inaccurate or misleading food labelling or differential price advertising. There has also been widespread criticism of marketing practices promoting products that can be harmful to health, especially high fat and high salt foods, cigarettes and alcohol. Concern around the marketing of these products is heightened with respect to vulnerable groups, such as the poor.

Product placement involves all these issues, but also goes beyond them because of the difficulty of categorising it as a marketing practice. It appears to have elements of many other marketing techniques, such as branding, promotion, celebrity endorsement, sponsorship, public relations and advertising, but, crucially, it is based on communication, which, typically, does not reveal its source, motive or, indeed, its very message. This makes the evaluation of product placement particularly problematic.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

It is not uncommon for brand owners to try and create dramatically resonant placements by liaising closely with studios in the creative development stage of newly mediated entertainment products. The aim is to integrate brands seamlessly into the feature as part of the plot or characterisation, thus enhancing the credibility and dramatic force of the scene. At the same time, product placement also confers added prestige for the placed brand through exposure in the enhanced reality of a movie.

Where placements are poorly integrated into a TV show or movie, they tend to be resisted by consumers, because of the detrimental effect awkward placements have on the quality of the viewers’ entertainment experience. The potential benefits of product placements to brands are well-established, with some notable sales increases of the order of 65 per cent attributed to media placements.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Implicit product placement has drawn relatively little attention from advertising theorists or, indeed, supervisory bodies, despite suspicions that the practice is increasing in scale and subtlety. The key marketing strength of this kind of promotional practice is also the main source of criticisms: consumers are not necessarily aware that the brand reference they see within their entertainment has a promotional motive.

Even where sophisticated consumers are aware of the practice, there is no opportunity for them to cognitively separate the brand reference from its context within the entertainment. Hence, product placement offers no opportunity for rational dialogue between advertiser and consumers and no real separation between editorial and advertising.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Generally speaking, consumers are at ease with product placement with some relatively minor qualifications. Research grouped concerns into two main aspects: general concerns about the practice, and specific concerns about particular product categories. One of the strongest criticisms of product placement concerns the feeling among some consumers that it entails subliminal promotional effects.

It can, it is assumed, affect people below their level of conscious awareness, so that they are not necessarily able to control their acceptance or rejection of the product placement messages. Another major concern with the practice of product placement is that some people perceive it as a deceptive practice, because it may cause people who are unaware of the rhetorical intent of the product placement to engage in purchasing behaviour.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Particular objections have sometimes been raised about specific product placement categories. Children are seen as a particularly susceptible group when it comes to product placement, because they have not yet developed sensitivity to this type of subtle promotional tool. It is widely accepted that they are not aware of the commercial motive behind conventional advertising until around ten years of age, although their recall of brands seen on TV begins almost as soon as conscious awareness occurs.

As an example of exploitation of this type, it is common for cartoon series to be given free of charge to TV channels, since they are promotional devices for the hugely profitable action figure toy business. On the other hand, sponsorship of adult TV shows and, in particular, the relationship between sponsor influence and TV show content, are closely scrutinised by regulators.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Concerns have been expressed by consumers about the promoting of particular product categories using product placement, including alcoholic beverages, drugs and other medical products, and tobacco. While promotion of these product categories arouses general concern with regard to conventional advertising, this is exacerbated with product placement, because of the perception that regulatory authorities exercise a relative lack of control over promotions in this context.

While there are codes of practice concerning television sponsorship, product placement deals are often struck between the studio and brand owner and can cover script content and scene props. Such deals can evade the scrutiny of bodies responsible for advertising and promotion, because they are claimed to fall within editorial control.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

TRUE – if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE – if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN – if there is no information on this

27. Product placement is generally regarded as a more secure investment in terms of promotion.

28. Traditional advertising on television has become less effective.

29. Politicians have recently exploited the controversy over product placement to develop their own publicity.

30. One of product placement’s advantages is that it can increase the authenticity of a scene.

31. Product placement agencies have campaigned against the movement to increase regulation on product placement.

32. Product placement can create excellent recall in target audiences, but rarely actually increases company revenues.

33. Product placement’s greatest advantage is what attracts the most disapproval.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Objections to Product Placement

General Objections

Product placement has been specifically attacked due to its (34)_____________ nature, which means it can reach people’s subconscious. As the public do not recognise product placement’s persuasive nature, it can be regarded as a (35)_____________.

Specific Objections

Children are seen as especially vulnerable to product placement, due to their lack of (36)_____________ to marketing strategies. As a result, cartoons can sometimes be perceived as (37)_____________ for the toy industry. On the other hand, adult-focused advertising is subject to more control by (38)_____________. The product placement of controversial products have attracted particular criticism. Agreements between media producers and companies are viewed as being under (39)_____________ and so can escape regulation.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

40. What is the best title for the text in Section 3?

A. The Benefits of Product Placement

B. The Future of Product Placement

C. The Ethics of Product Placement

D. The Origins of Product Placement

IELTS Academic Reading Test


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

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IELTS Academic Reading Test


28. TRUE


30. TRUE



33. TRUE







40. C

IELTS Academic Reading Test

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