KFTV's Film & TV Finance Magazine - page 14-15

w i t h t h e n e t h e r l a n d s f i l m f u n d & n e t h e r l a n d s f i l m c o m m i s s i o n
g u i d e t o f i l m & t v f i n a n c e
g u i d e t o f i l m & t v f i n a n c e
w i t h t h e n e t h e r l a n d s f i l m f u n d & n e t h e r l a n d s f i l m c o m m i s s i o n
p r o d u c t p l a c e m e n t
p r o d u c t p l a c e m e n t
with TV. Agencies see hundreds of scripts
a year. But assuming they find one that
does appeal to the brand, the next step is to
identify opportunities in the script. At this
stage, they will then negotiate a contract
with the filmmaker covering what the brand
will supply and how many visual and verbal
references it will get.
Good agencies will not just source products
and services, they’ll manage all aspects
of the logistics chain from delivery to the
clean-up operation.
Doesn’t that risk harming the
editorial appeal of the project?
Yes it does, so it’s something worth
thinking about before you sign a contract.
Brands and agencies are pretty shrewd and
will not usually try to force inappropriate
integration on films. Examples of good
integration cited by NMG include the scene
in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when Gary
Oldman (as George Smiley) is holding a
bottle of Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Black
Label; or the scene in Inside Man when
Denzel Washington leaves a Wrigley’s Juicy
Fruit wrapper in a safe deposit box.
What kind of money is on offer?
This is one area where filmmakers may
have unrealistic expectations. It’s easy to
look at trade press headlines and assume
that millions of dollars are changing hands.
But that’s very rare. Usually, the headline
figure being quoted is how much the brand
is spending on activating its association.
In other words, it might buy into a movie
for US$1m then spend US$20m on related
events and advertising (money that doesn’t
go near the filmmaker). Just as importantly,
a lot of product placement deals don’t see
any money change hands. Instead, what
is on offer from the brand is goods and
services. A classic example is the provision
of cars. Here, a company might provide
a fleet of cars and related labour costs in
return for exposure during the movie.
They aren’t paying for their involvement but
they could save the producer significant
sums of money.
Similar deals can be struck with regard to
props, set and wardrobe. Seesaw Media,
for example, worked closely with the Skyfall
costume department, to provide outerwear
by luxury fashion brand Belstaff for Bond
villain Silva (Javier Bardem) and Bond Girl
Eve (Naomie Harris), both of which can be
seen featured on the advertising for Skyfall.
Is it possible to calculate a price
for product placement?
Various research systems exist to compare
the value of a sponsor’s name appearing on
screen with the value of advertising airtime.
So in theory the same technique could be
applied to product placement in movies. In
practice, there are so many variables that
such an analysis would not be very useful in
dictating a price to brand owners.
More likely, it would be used by agencies
and brand owners to post-rationalise any
investment they have made in product
Are there any other benefits
worth having?
Not to be overlooked is the role brands can
play in marketing a movie. When BMW linked
up with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
(a deal put together by Propaganda Gem), it
used its assets across TV ads, PR, dealership
events, auto shows and digital. In doing so,
it provided support for the film in the crucial
run up to release. In a similar vein, technology
brands like LG and Nokia are useful partners
because of their target audience and second
screen distribution capabilities.
Keep in mind that a growing number of
producers and brands are finding ways to
forge effective marketing partnerships that
don’t require the product to be mentioned
within the film. This is actually a significant
trend in the business, because producers
would rather not have brands scattered
throughout their movie if they can avoid it.
Brands that are happy to work like this can
come up with some clever associations.
For example, Gillette recently linked up with
the Avengers franchise to create a fun spoof
of the shaving category’s marketing clichés.
In a video-based campaign, it pretended
it had linked up with Stark Industries to
create four new technologically-advanced
razors based on the Iron Man, Hulk, Captain
America and Thor characters.
What kinds of brands get
involved with product
A good reference on this subject is
Brandchannel’s Brandcameo,
) which charts all
references to products and services in films.
Its research shows that brands that get a lot
of screen-time include Budweiser, Chevrolet,
Ford, Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz. Apple-
branded products appeared in more than one
third of all number one films at US box office
between 2001 and 2011 (129 of 374). Apple
rarely needs to do product placement deals,
because it is aware that filmmakers want
to include their products as a way of giving
their film a cutting edge feel. One brand that
gets a lot of exposure via movie product
placement is Hamilton Watches, which was
very prominent in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi
blockbuster Interstellar.
What is Product Placement?
Product placement is a way of helping
filmmakers either achieve, control or
maximise the impact of their production
budgets. At its simplest level, it involves
providing advertisers with some exposure
in their movie, in return for cash or goods/
services. A basic example might see
the central character of a movie drive a
particular brand of car, use a designated
mobile phone or favour an alcoholic drink.
Heineken’s association with the James
Bond movie Skyfall, GM’s association
with the Transformers series and Volvo’s
partnership with the Twilight franchise are
all high-profile examples. In recent times,
there has been a trend towards Chinese
brands appearing in blockbuster Hollywood
franchises, notably Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and
the Transformers series.
Why is it growing in popularity?
Three reasons. Firstly, traditional film
funding is extremely hard to come by, so
product placement is a way of utilising
an untapped asset – media exposure.
Secondly, advertisers are finding it harder
to communicate with audiences via
conventional channels, so they are looking
more towards product integration. Thirdly,
technological improvements mean that it is
now possible to introduce products using
digital effects. The benefits of this are
discussed later on.
So what’s the first step?
The way product placement works varies
considerably depending on the profile of
the filmmaker. If it is a large Hollywood
studio, for example, it will have a division
responsible for all forms of commercial
relationship. This division will have
access to an ongoing pipeline of high-end
productions and a probably a few sequels.
As a result, it is of immense interest to
brands and their top-tier agencies. With
pretty strong guarantees regarding release
dates and the prospect of big movie
marketing budgets, brands will typically
keep up an ongoing dialogue about
opportunities as they arise.
The kind of deal that typifies this scenario
was the one between Sex and The City 2 and
HP. In this case, HP had a very clear idea
about the franchise it was buying in to.
The situation is different for independent
filmmakers. Here, we are dealing with one-off
projects that may have limited marketing
spend and few guarantees over the level
of distribution they will achieve (let alone
the kind of box office reaction they get).
Understandably brands are more nervous and
will usually appoint specialist agencies to vet
projects for them.
An example of such an agency is
Pinewood-based consultancy NMG (www.
newmediagroup.co.uk), which has worked
with brands on titles such as Tinker Tailor
Soldier Spy, One Day, The Iron Lady,
Prometheus, The Theory Of Everything and
Philomena. For indie filmmakers, agencies
like these are the best first port of call.
Are there many agencies in the
product placement space?
London and LA are both strong centres
of activity for the product placement
business. Among these are well-established
firms like Hollywood Branded
) and Seesaw
. Seesaw has seen a
growth in business enquiries of 65% year
on year and, as a result, taken the decision
to launch an LA office. Films it has worked
on include the Fast & Furious franchise,
Rush, The Iron Lady, Midnight In Paris, The
Dark Knight Rises, The Bourne Legacy and
So what happens if a filmmaker
contacts an agency?
As custodian of the brand, the agency will
want as many salient details as possible
to make sure that the film is the right
opportunity. The producer’s track record,
the names of the cast and director and the
likely release schedule are all vital. A film
has little value for a brand if it doesn’t get a
cinema release, even if going to DVD. This
is one reason a lot of brands prefer to work
Brands and agencies will not usually try to force
inappropriate integration on films.
Apple rarely needs to do product placement deals, because it
is aware that filmmakers want to include their products.
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