Product Placement as Effective Marketing Tool: 10 Tips for Successful Placement in TV or Film

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by Jessica Cohen

Product Placement Tip No. 1: “The Secret of My Success.” Join in the game.

Could there be anything headier than seeing your designs or products adorning stars like Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, or Angelina Jolie? Until you’ve scored a great placement, you can’t know the crazy and myriad ways it can help your brand. The cost-benefit ratio makes it a no brainer. But, like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.

Product Placement Tip No. 2: “Bend It Like Beckham.” Be flexible.

Being flexible can score you big points with a production. Your product might be almost perfect for their needs. But if you can offer to change the color, size, logo, or dimensions, doing so could win you the placement.

Product Placement Tip No. 3: “Beat the Clock.” Timing is critical.

Filming deadlines are tight. When costume or set designers ask for something, they usually need it yesterday. No matter how stellar your product, if you can’t deliver it on time you’ll be blacklisted. Make triple-sure you can fulfill a request before you say yes.

Product Placement Tip No. 4: “Show Me The Money.” Be patient, and the rewards will come.

If you want instant gratification, then product placement may not be for you. The lead-time for seeing your products in a show can be one month to one year, depending on the production schedule. However, the payoff is that millions of consumers may see your product associated with their favorite show or character.

Product Placement Tip No. 5: “The More the Merrier.” Be prepared for productions to request multiple items.

Duplicate items are requested in case the product gets lost or damaged, or the character has a stunt double who is shooting at the same time. Productions are not willing to take the risk of holding up a day of shooting to find that missing sweater that was already established as the one the lead actress wears every day.

Product Placement Tip No. 6: “It’s a Mad Mad World.” Show respect for the professionals on set; shooting a scene can be a very busy and crazy time.

You may be dying to know if they’re going to use your product, but take a deep breath and be respectful. Production schedules are usually hectic, and you don’t want to be a nuisance. Give your new contacts time to respond; don’t flood their inboxes with “checking in” emails.

Product Placement Tip No. 7: “Catch Me If You Can.” Understand that your product may not make it on screen, or it may appear just for a fleeting moment.

Even though your product may have been used in the shooting, there are many reasons it may not end up on screen. The scene may be cut from the movie, it may only appear for a split second, or the actress may be wearing your watch but they show her only from the shoulders up.

Product Placement Tip No. 8: “The GIFT.” Also give to those who do the work.

Costume designers and prop masters are just as influential off the clock as they are on set. Giving them your product as a gift could mean it ends up in a trailer where your favorite cast member goes for hair and makeup. Or if your contact uses your iPad case or wears your necklace, it might end up on their personal Instagram or Pinterest stream. They are influencers on and OFF the set.

Product Placement Tip No. 9: “Thank You…” Two simple words go a long way.

After a successful placement, make sure to send a personal and heartfelt thank-you. It’s the right thing to do  and they’ll be more likely to come back for more.

Product Placement Tip No. 10: “As Good as It Gets.” Congratulations. You scored a successful placement!

Did you spot your product on TV or in a movie? Congrats! Share your placement on your social media accounts. Even old placements get a big response on Social Media on Throwback Thursday. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But beware, networks will not share photos or stills of scenes for commercial use. That added benefit is usually saved for sponsors who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for those opportunities.

Product Placement 101: Who are these people?

Ever wonder about the difference between a costume designer, production designer, a set decorator, and prop master?

  • The costume designer chooses clothing, shoes, and jewelry to express the characters’ personalities. He or she coordinates closely with the hair and makeup stylist and set designer to make sure the clothes and accessories work in each scene, and with the director to ensure they mesh with the overall vision. They help tell the story and define the character through wardrobe and accessories.
  • The production designer is responsible for setting the scene and the overall vision for the sets. Permanent furniture, backdrops, and color schemes are the production designer’s domain. He or she designs and creates the set.
  • The set decorator is responsible for everything that is placed on a set. Furniture, bedspreads, pillows, vases, table settings, flowers, artwork, lamps, televisions—anything on set that is not moving or held is put there by a set decorator.
  • The prop master is responsible for property—everything from cell phones to water bottles, sunglasses to cameras, computers to food. If an actor is holding it, the prop master is responsible for it.