Money To Live

October 2, 2009

Product Placement Where I Don’t Want It

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 4:58 pm

Long-time reader Shannon talked to her mother, a United flight attendant, who said that this is NOT an example of product placement – it is a true safety concern. I still think that this is good advertising for Sony. If I worked in advertising, I would encourage companies to advertise their products in in-flight magazines if their products are mentioned in a safety announcement (i.e., Apple-iPod and RIM-Blackberry).

This past week I traveled for a business trip and flew home on United Airlines from Washington, DC to Chicago to Seattle. It was a long day.

I noticed something funny at the beginning of the first flight. And then noticed it again at the end of the flight. And again at the beginning of the next flight.

Then I explained to my colleagues what I think happened: Sony paid United Airlines to plug their product in a safety warning!

People in the neighboring rows heard me, and I saw a few heads nod. The specific ad safety warning was not repeated at the conclusion of the flight. I wonder if it is because a flight attendant heard my observation.

Just before take off, a flight attendant usually makes an announcement to remind everyone to

  • Return tray tables and seat backs to the upright position,
  • Turn off all electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones, and
  • That includes your noise-canceling headphones.

What? Remember to turn off your noise canceling headphones? I know *one* person who has ever bought noise-canceling headphones. I have never seen a plane full of people wearing them.

Flipping through United’s magazine, I came across a full page, splashy ad for Sony’s noise-canceling headphones. Sony’s name is not mentioned explicitly in the safety warning, but Sony has a large, well-placed ad in the in-flight magazine. Hmmmmmmmm.

It’s pretty clever of Sony and United to advertise in a safety warning, but it feels wrong. I want my flight crew to focus on keeping passengers safe – not on promoting headphones.

I haven’t found any news stories about this possible deal. What do you think? Do you think Sony found a new way to advertise? Or are there just a few creative flight attendants who like noise-canceling headphones? If you fly United soon, notice if you hear any special warnings.

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6 Comments »

  1. ooooh, very sneaky. Sharp observation!!!!!

    Comment by anita — October 3, 2009 @ 1:56 pm |Reply

  2. Did this also happen on your forward flight? Two different flights is definitely suspect, but three would make me a believer. šŸ™‚

    Comment by Andrew M — October 4, 2009 @ 12:14 am |Reply

  3. The forward flights were on a different airline, so I only have data for two flights (with different flight crews).

    Comment by moneytolive — October 4, 2009 @ 2:11 pm |Reply

  4. My mom’s a United Flight attendant – Washington, DC based, even. I’ll ask her if she has been instructed to say that and get back to you. (Gasp! Maybe it was even her that said it!) Stay tuned…

    Comment by Shannon — October 14, 2009 @ 3:06 am |Reply

  5. The real scoop directly from Mommy the United flight attendant:
    It’s anything with an on/off button – anything that generates a signal. Noise cancellation headphones are different from regular headphones because they emit a signal just like an mp3 player would. A lot of people like to leave them on – & I personally don’t care & don’t make the announcement, but control freak FAs (flight attendants) do like to do it. There ARE many brands, Bose being the foremost one & many people – usually in first or business have them. We have NO contract w/Sony or they would be pushing us to make the announcement (& they aren’t). Many airlines make similar announcements.

    Comment by Shannon — October 14, 2009 @ 9:35 pm |Reply

  6. […] Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 11:47 pm An update to a recent post about possible product placement in airline safety […]

    Pingback by Small updates « Money To Live — October 21, 2009 @ 11:47 pm |Reply


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