Author Archive

5 Myths About Product Placement:

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Product placement is an inexpensive and effective marketing strategy.  So why do many brands not leverage the power of product placement?  Let’s examine 5 Myths of Product Placement:

1.    Placement is expensive. Not true!  Commercials are expensive.  Billboards are expensive.  Product placement is not, even though placements reach millions of eyeballs at a time.

2.    Cash always changes hands for placements. Brands seldom pay producers for their products to be highlighted in films or TV shows.  Most brands engage a product placement agency to do all the homework—read scripts, pitch product, manage the logistics of shipping product, etc.  If a prop master knows your brand, likes your brand, and trusts that you will deliver your products on time, he/she will likely want to use your brand.  Period.

3.    You can guarantee placement. You can try.  But at the end of the day, there are no guarantees. Some product placement opportunities will turn out great: Some will wind up on the cutting room floor.  It’s like PR.  You can pitch your story, but there is no guarantee the editor will include it.

4.    The work ends when you send product to the set. The work has just begun! You or your representative need to follow up with the studio executives and prop masters to be sure they received your product. Are they happy with it?  Do they need more?  When will they provide proof of placement photos?  Have they returned the products?  Product placement agencies handle all these nitty-gritty details and logistics for the brand.

5.    The work ends when the production wraps. There is still more work to do.  So you placed your product in a big film.  Great!  Now you have to get the message out to your customers.  A product placement agency will help you convert placements into sales by negotiating official promotional partnerships, or through unofficial guerilla tactics and social networks.

Product Placement for Niche Brands

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Brands come in all shapes and sizes.  And while some are global, mass-market players (think Coca Cola) a greater number are niche brands who cater to a very specific, and sometimes highly localized, customer.  A telescope maker, a yoga clothing company, or (one of our clients) a maker of military and law enforcement equipment, are all examples of niche brands.
Product placement is just as effective for niche brands.  In fact, measured by percentage of sales, it can have an even great impact for niche brands.  Plus niche brands have well defined, loyal, and often passionate customers: exactly the kind of viewers the studios want to reach through promotions.
The only difference between a mass marketer and a niche brand is the number of appropriate product placements available to each.  While Coca Cola could be placed in a great number of films and television shows every year, there will only be a few projects that, for example, feature a telescope, or showcase hip yoga clothes, or require military equipment.  To take advantage of these few, great opportunities, a product placement agency is an absolute must for a niche brand.  Through creative negotiations, the brand can work out an affordable deal so the agency can do the work for them, and spot opportunities the niche brand would have missed on their own.

Product Placement: What’s in it for the Studio?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Most everyone understands the benefits of product placement to the brand, but what’s in it for the studio?
Despite popular belief, Studios don’t always get fistfuls of money for each close up. So why do they agree to a product placement that doesn’t come with a big cash fee?
Because they get a lot more.  First, Studios get free products.  This can equal serious savings: When you’re talking ten free $60,000 cars, or fifteen free $5,000 watches, the benefits of product placement add up.  Second, Studios receive clearance from the brand to use their product in the production.  Nothing can appear in a film or TV show without first being cleared – the actors, the artwork in the background, even the props and wardrobe.  Getting those clearances is a real pain in the butt, and working with a brand that will sign a document granting the right to use their product saves Studios a lot of trouble.  Finally, product placement ads realism to films and TV shows.  Do you remember the film ANY GIVEN SUNDAY?  Al Pacino coached the fictitious Miami Sharks in the made-up AFFA football league.  It sounded fake, and it detracted from the film.  All because the NFL wouldn’t give Oliver Stone clearance to use their brands.

What Is A Prop Master?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

For brands who want to place their products in movies and television shows the Prop Master (officially: Property Master) is the the key to their fortunes.  But most folks outside of Hollywood wouldn’t know a Prop Master from a Set Decorator or Greensman.  Simply put, the Prop Master is responsible for the props, and props are the objects that actors hold or interact with in the course of a scene.  Sunglasses and watches are examples of props.  So are guns and drinks, food and chairs.  The general rule is anything an actor touches is a prop, and anything else is a set decoration.  The Prop Master works with the director to find or manufacture props that fit the director’s vision.  It’s a huge responsibility because every director has a unique vision and all it takes is one missing prop to shut down production.  Established Prop Masters own their own kit of reusable props that they rent out to each job.  Their kits can be as small as a van or as big as a full size, 18 wheeler truck.  For the unique props they turn to rental houses, stores, and placement agencies such as Particle.

The Importance Of A Fast “No”

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Filmmaking is a high stakes, high speed endeavor.  On a major motion picture, each day of principle photography burns through $1 Million or more – cash.  When producers reach out to brands for product placement in their films, they are hoping the brands will reply with a quick “yes”. But, short of that, the producers are hoping for an equally speedy “No” so they have time to move on to their next option.  In the end, everything has to be ready when the director calls “Action.”
Popular brands receive tons of product placement requests.  It’s impossible to say yes to everyone.  So when a brand has to say no, we encourage them to say no quickly.  If a brand gives the production a fast and definitive “no” the producers have time to react.  But if brands hem and haw and then, at the 11th hour, finally say no, they have set the producers up for failure.  And producers never forgive something like that.