What is Product Placement?

Product Placement, at it’s best, is the seamless integration of a brand into the storytelling of fictional or non-fictional media. Feature Films, Music Videos, Online/Television Series, and Video Games are the most sought after mediums for marketers, but books, weblogs, and new emerging mediums also utilize product placement.

How long has it been around?

Longer than most people think. While everyone likes to cite “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” eating Reese’s Pieces as the watershed moment, Product Placement has been around for over half a century.

For instance daytime dramas are often referred to as Soap Operas, because they were sponsored by soap companies to reach their core demographic: housewives.

Early westerns, sponsored by cigarette companies, only the good guys would smoke.

As long as productions could find a way to subsidize their costs, Product Placement has been involved.

So every time we see a product, the company or brand paid to integrate it?

No. 95% of the brands you see on screen are the result of products being loaned to production. The benefit for production is that they don’t have to buy or rent props, vehicles, wardrobe, or set pieces. These simple savings allows production to spend their budget elsewhere, elevating the overall production value.

Why don’t brands/companies just advertise?

Traditional advertising will always be a part of a marketing mix, but traditional advertising has hit an over-saturation point. Plus, viewing habits of the audience have evolved over time. Who hasn’t grabbed the remote and flipped around channels to see what else is on during a commercial break? Or, gone to the bathroom, grabbed some popcorn, and tuned out the commercial?

Not only has the technology of the “remote control” changed viewer habits, but DVR’s like TiVo have delivered on their promise of time-shifting. A DVR enables you to watch “What you want, when you want” and is even easier to bypass commercial interruptions. Or, worse, the commercials are out of date because they were advertising a sale that had already expired by the time you watched an episode weeks after it initially aired.

So, being an essential part of the story line, the part viewers tune in to watch, when their attention is at its highest is why being a part of the program is preferable to being plugged around it.

A commercial has a limited shelf-life. A commercial costs you every time it airs.

A Product Placement lives on and the audience exposure will continue to grow.

For example: One Product Placement in a Feature Film will be seen by audiences not only in theaters, but on premium cable like HBO or Showtime, Pay Per View, DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes, Network Television, basic cable, and whatever new medium they invent next.

How can you tell Product Placement works?

Calculating a return on your investment is a key component to advertising. Word of mouth, consumer interest, and ultimately sales are some of the key indicators of performance.

There are a myriad of ways to evaluate the cost to value ration of a placement. Some firms merely compare the time on screen to the cost to air a 30 second commercial (not including the cost to produce that commercial).

However, the duration of a placement does not always equate to the value of a placement. Do people remember a brand shown in the background for 10 seconds more or less than a brand featured in a close up for 5 seconds?

So, time can’t be the only component. Who uses the product onscreen? How is it used? When? Where? These are all important qualifier’s to gauge how memorable a placement was and how likely an audience can recall the brand that was placed.

Can I fund my movie with Product Placement deals?

Only a small percentage of films are able to secure fees for Product Placement. In this formulation, a brand must consider all the elements involved to determine whether or not a potential project will indeed reach their target audience. Cast, crew, and distribution details (not to mention the story) all contribute to the bottom line.

Savvy filmmakers have always looked for alternate forms of funding (from foreign financing to credit cards).

As the technology improves, so do cost savings. And as audience’s viewing habits evolve, so new methods of distribution. A few years ago, video on the internet was a slow, tedious process. With Youtube, video on the internet is everywhere.

Perhaps a brand’s most lucrative offering, isn’t financing for the project, but a way to “get the word out” about a project. Much in the same way that brands must try harder and harder to rise above the clutter, new mediums are constantly vying for audience’s attention.

At the end of the day, a film or game or weblog is only as impactful as the number of people who watched, played or read it.

Are you hiring?

While we are always on the lookout for interesting candidates, at present we are fully staffed.

Iconic Entertainment

11260 Overland Avenue - Building 27 - Suite B - Culver City, CA 90230 - Phone: (310) 876-3945 - Fax: (310) 531-7308