Why Product Placement In Content Works
The big buzz words in marketing today are driven by two facets of pop culture: influencer marketing and content marketing. And having your brand become embedded and partnered with that content that either influencers are generating, production companies are creating or that which your brand creates itself are the sure-fire ways to get noticed. The problem with producing your own content, is that you as a brand also have to figure out how to distribute that content once it’s been created. And that isn’t so easy.
That’s why so many brands are partnering with influencers, TV shows, feature films, music videos, video games or events that offer turnkey capabilities. Those third parties build a storyline around your brand, and they bring the audience as well. And what is so great is that branded content partnerships work with any targeted age range, be that Gen Z, Millennials, Gen Xers or Baby Boomers and beyond. Product placement works – and it has impacted thousands of brands across dozens of categorize over the years. And when you add in messaging and provide a deeper look inside the brand? It can make your sales soar. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares 18 ways tech brands can leverage branded content and product placement to increase brand awareness and sales.
Content Partners Love Tech Brands
Tech brands are a natural fit for content and influencer partnerships. From on-set product placement, to a product that an actor might hold in a scene, or a (fictional) conversation about the next big investment coming out of Silicon Valley – brands are woven into scenes on every TV show, feature film or music video, and into the content that influencers post about on a daily basis.
It is a fact that art mimics life, and those creators on set want to have that cool thing that everyone is talking about. Or WILL be talking about.
Opportunities can range from passive placement by being just part of the video scene (or photo when it comes to influencer social posts), to the brand being built into the storyline, or even an entire scene scripted discussion featuring the brand. And these product placements can evolve into being full blown marketing campaigns – with PR extensions, in-store promotions at retail, social media, digital overlays, TV campaigns and more.
Content marketing does one really big thing for brands of all types. If you can get a 3rd party to include you in their content - you have instant validation. You are worthy. You are credible. You are a brand to be taken notice of. Because after all - especially when it comes to Hollywood and Celebrities - they aren't going to let their name be next to just any kind of brand. You get your 'approved by' stamp from these partnerships. And it goes a long way in shaping your brand's identity.
As you start thinking about content partnerships, keep the following opportunities in mind!
#1 Scripted TV Shows
If you have a brand that is a gadget or electronic, then having it on a TV set is going to provide A LOT of exposure.
Prop masters and set decorators (those are who choose what gets access to be on the set) love loaned tech equipment. It makes their jobs easier when they are trying to set up a scene to be as realistic as possible.TV writers want to stay hip, and they love writing about technology partnerships. And directors love having something cool and cutting edge to focus on. And by the way - did you pick up that word I just used? LOANED. Just because something goes to set does not mean it is going to never be returned. In fact, we warehouse product, get certificates of insurance to help safeguard loss or breakage, check product out to the production, and then check it back in upon the completion of filming. And off it goes to another production right after!
I once worked on integrating a state of the art Philips open air MRI machine onto the set of Grey's Anatomy. The show was practically drooling for it because the technology was brand new - it was so state of the art that it was not even established in hospitals yet anywhere in the world, and we had a tech crew from the Netherlands fly out to set up the shell of the system as a permanent part of the Grey's Anatomy set.
When Silicon Valley had a trade show scripted for one of their episodes - Hoolicon... the props and set department had to build it from scratch! And boy did Tech brands win big - including our client FLIR. We built out an entire 'fake' booth for the trade show environment, and had a staff on hand of fake trade show workers for the shoots.
We worked with BlackBerry for over eight years, placing the mobile phone in every relevant business setting, and helping make it become the favorite phone of Hollywood. Times change, and technology can fall out of favor - but our work in Hollywood with the set decorators and prop masters, producers and directors, still has them enamored with the brand and asking for it on a weekly basis.
Check out this video sizzle of some of the placements we secured for BlackBerry over the years.
Tech brand can entirely change a scene and influence the audience's perception of who the character types are.
So you want to have a bigger role than passive placement or being used in the scene by a character... Let's say you want an actual storyline all about your brand. It's harder to get a show on board, and this is going to be the most expensive direction to go – and the least controllable messaging as the show writers have complete creative control over the content. Typically the most the brand is going to get within scripted content is usage of the product and logo exposure. No calls to action for purchases. No co-branded promotions off the show itself.
Most network TV shows that are scripted are no-go’s for this type of exposure for brands as they require massive multi-million dollar media buys. Seriously - $5 million minimum (or more) commitments for general advertising, and THEN a fee of $1 million for the storyline. Most brands aren't budgeted to do this.
But... here is the big but. If your brand is cool enough and offers something unique, sometimes you can sneak in and get some really great product exposure even on scripted network TV.
Check out FLIR's exposure in Mysteries of Laura.
Cable networks are better overall for storyline opportunities – and price - control. Networks like Starz, Showtime and HBO - but even these have limits as far as accepting dollars for the scripted storyline, as HBO as an example typically does not allow fees for brands to appear in the productions, as they don't want to offend paying subscribers.
#2 Feature Films
Much like scripted TV, feature films offer passive product placement as well as larger placements, including storyline. But keep in mind that it will be a 12-18 month time frame before it will be released, which might not fit your ‘must have it now’ marketing needs. If you can wait it out though, feature films offer a fantastic option to co-promote the film around your planned advertising. It makes building a 360 degree campaign that jumps off the screen and into retail, TV, print, digital marketing and beyond.
Our team just did a brand partnership deal with FLIR (thermal cameras) and Dwayne Johnson's Rampage, where we had their corporate plane which was fully loaded with demo cameras, do fly overs with their pilots during the scene in the canyon to capture the footage at night. As part of that partnership FLIR received verbal mentions and logo shots in appropriately themed military scenes in other parts of the film. The cool factor of the technology is what interested the production - and the fact that we could offer something that was cost saving as well to their bottom line expenditures.
And with feature films - your brand may even be included in the trailer! Check out the partnership we just did with Bumble and Candace Bergen in the movie Book Club. Before the movie even came out, the movie's trailer featured Bumble in its national advertising.
#3 Reality TV Shows
And then there are reality shows. Yes, there are reality shows like Jersey Shore or New York Housewives... but there are also a TON of reality programs that offer great fits for tech brands. From the new upcoming Brand Made TV series on Science Channel, which breaks down how brands are created while featuring the engineers, marketers and all those who helped launch it.. to all of the outdoor adventure productions, DIY home remodeling, cooking series and MORE... brands, and especially tech brands, have a phenomenal opportunity to make really big brand appearances and impact.
See FLIR in Expedition's Unknown... helping find the Yeti. We do a lot of work with shows to help find ghosts too! And then... we also use the thermal cameras to showcase water damage in home DIY shows, and outdoor adventure series where they journey by way of thermal. Content offers storylines of all types!
#4 Morning & Daytime Talk Shows
One of the best ways to control messaging and gain mega viewer’s attentions is through Morning & Daytime talk shows – The View, The Talk, Rachael Ray, The Chew, Ellen, The Doctors or Live with Kelly & Ryan as examples. Just realize... the majority of these audiences are going to be women 55+. Yet that doesn't send most brands running. These women, many of whom are moms - talk. A lot. And share what they have seen with their adult children.
With talk shows, there are numerous ways to control messaging, feature product on screen, and have the hosts have a conversation around the brand. A brand’s spokesperson can often be part of the segment, and we can even build in Calls To Action, sweepstakes or social interactions within the brand segments.
Check out the partnership we built with Ellen and Bumble, where the app was built into Ellen's opening show monologue. Ellen is actually a tech brand dream, especially with the 12 Days of Holidays giveaways to the audience members. Just plan on giving away over 450 units of product.
You can also focus on other markets - we've had great success in building out partnerships with Spanish language programming, like we did here for Gigaset and Venga La Alegria.
#5 Early Evening Entertainment News
Another GREAT option is with early evening entertainment news – shows like Access Hollywood, Extra and Entertainment Tonight. Again, the show hosts can provide conversational messaging about the brand, and in some instances, have that brand spokesperson on the show. With entertainment news programming, there is the feel of being a little more news-oriented than talk shows. Plus the option of a digital overlay with links back to the brand’s website.
Check out the partnership we built for Stealth - a RFD card that protects your credit cards from having a thief lift the numbers. Super cool technology.
#6 Local And Regional News Programming
A smaller audience, but one that is still extremely engaged, are those who watch local and regional news programming. Again the idea would be to have a brand spokesperson on, or to have the show do a live segment featuring the brand in some way. We’ve done segments covering restaurant openings, cosmetic laser procedures to hotel resort coverage complete with win a trip giveaways to create a controlled story. This is typically one of the most affordable options, but it also has a smaller audience than a national talk or news program.
We've worked with a number of medical aesthetic brands, and both local and regional news programming are a great fit because we can have both the technology product and the key opinion leader (KOL) that is a partner to the brand as a spokesperson be featured.
#7 Regional And Syndicated Lifestyle Programs
Regional lifestyle programs are going to be similar to the local news, and among the most affordable options for segments to be built out and fully controlled. A lot of these shows run in fringe time frames, where those who are sleepless at night or early morning risers – or even Saturday morning viewers, are going to tune in.
These productions allow a brand to be create a self-owned segment, and they are funded by the brand partnerships that come on board.
#8 Music Videos
Music videos offer one of the fastest content partnership turnarounds - and to the biggest audiences out there. What is so incredibly cool with music videos is you can actually get guaranteed seconds of exposure (no other content platform provides that by the way), with guaranteed logo exposure. Tech brands realistically lend themselves to music, and typically share very similar audiences of trendsetters.
The artists themselves can become part of a larger campaign. Our team has done extended campaigns by doing a social media partnership with the artist, getting behind the scenes content cut for the brand to share through their digital and social platforms, bringing the partnership into retail, running a sweepstakes with concert tickets and meet and greets - and more!
Another fantastic thing about music videos is that they reach a global audience. You can work with artists (and budgets) of any size - from emerging to A listers, and all that lies between. You can also advertise around a music video on Vevo or YouTube, with pre roll ads, creating a more robust partnership your consumer base is sure to not miss.
Check out this compilation of some of the different music video partnerships our team has done.
Read this interview and then watch this video with music video director Ryan Staake who used FLIR thermal camera technology throughout his video to make a big impact! Plus, we were able to take this testimonial, and play it at trade shows to bring that message directly to retail buyers.
#9 Video Games
Video games are not for kids. In fact, there are a crazy number of millennials, Gen Xers and yes...even baby boomers who play! Getting your brand into a scene is actually quite realistic for tech brands. And what I love about video games are the extensions that are available through the gaming partner.
You have casual computer video games, multi player console games, and mobile games - and options for every player!
Options range from social media content and special downloads that people have to 'do' something with your brand (as in check it out somehow digitally) in order to access an upgrade or more game play, to full blown marketing campaigns that are cobranded and run across all media. And even the game partner may have interest in getting some of your products and doing giveaway contests to their massive lists of fans and game users.
#10 Game Shows
Some of the TV programming with the largest early evening or daytime programming are Game Shows. They typically have ENORMOUS viewership. Crazy numbers sometimes that people really don't realize. The Price Is Right, Let's Make A Deal, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire or game shows that are brought out by network TV in the evening hour get a wide range of viewers, ranging from college aged to 55+.
These shows have the ability to interweave a brand into a featured message, or even a week long sponsorship.
#11 Satellite Media Tours
Often thought of as an old school public relations tool, we can build packaged traditional ‘satellite’ tour where a segment hosted by a spokesperson is filmed and set to look like it is in a specific environment, and then pushed out to a variety of syndication outlets who will pick it up and run it in various local news markets where they have slots open for some pay-for-play content to live. You can get some oddball markets with this approach, but the cost is extremely fair, and additional more target markets can be added on.
If you are even thinking of local news or regional lifestyle programming, then satellite media tours are something to add to your bucket list.
#12 Blogger Campaign
A blogger campaign uses influencers... but is still thought of a little differently than that of using YouTubers or Instagrammers. Blogger campaigns are fantastic in that they provide lots of written words about your brand. And they live online for Google to find and show in search after search after search. Even when the blogger doesn't have a giant following, if someone is searching for certain keywords, the blog is going to show up.
Blogging is the way most brands find Hollywood Branded, if not through referrals. And we blog a lot as an agency versus depending on other bloggers to blog about us. We also do PR about our agency, and love talking with reporters so that they will help us show up in digital articles.
If you don't have a comprehensive PR strategy in place, and if you don't blog nonstop (and I mean at least 4x a week) about your brand... then you need to find someone else who is going to do it for you. Trust me. It works. Really really well. It's all about inbound marketing. Plus the content that is generated can be shared across your social platforms and it's great feedback to see what someone who really wants to write positively about your company, really thinks.
#13 Public Relations - Digital & Print Content
I originally wasn't going to chat about PR and the importance of having a program in place. But after what I wrote above about how we use PR for our own agency, I realized I need to make sure you do too.
Look, it's not exactly easy getting product reviews and becoming the spokesperson for your company that is on speed dial to chime in on various stories. But it is absolutely worth it. Not only is it something tech investors or execs truly care about (how often are you asked what's new in the press about your product... often I am sure), it is a way to validate to them, as well as to potential buyers that your product is real, it's valuable, and it has something unique about it that others should check out.
Make sure you read this article I wrote on creating a PR plan: Not Realizing The Importance Of Creating A Public Relations Plan
#14 Airline & Business TV - Branded Content Pods
There is another type of branded content option for tech brands that involves creating sponsored content videos promoting the brand, with the segment providing a storyline overview on the brand's unique story. The entire process is turnkey by the production company, and then these long format videos then air on airline partners or on business television channels that run in airports. Airlines including jetBlue, United Airlines and American Airlines (and Virgin America in the past years) run this programming on a loop basis on the plane, providing a different sort of infotainment to a very captive audience.
The benefit is that these segments can be scripted, with guaranteed messaging. They run in rotation so there are guarantees of viewership as well, and can even include calls to action to trigger a driver to websites or purchase.
#15 Celebrity Endorsements
There are partnerships with celebrities for social call outs across their various social platforms, opportunities for celebrities to attend brand events and tradeshows, and options for celebrities to become part of a brand's media and advertising plan. Endless options in fact where comprehensive campaigns involving the brand's print, TV and digital media co-branded with the celebrity's likeness can be built.
Check out some of the blogs we've written on partnering with celebrities to help provide you with some more knowledge and do's and don'ts.
- Celebrity Ads Paired With Unexpected Brand Categories
- Athletes As Brand Celebrity Endorsers High Reward And Low Risk
- 8 Steps to Leverage Celebrity Talent To A Brand's Advantage
- Cause Related Marketing Campaigns Getting The Celebrity Treatment
- 12 Steps To Celebrity Event Sponsorships
- 8 Steps To Inviting A Celebrity To Your Event And Saving Some Money In The Process
Also take a look at how we hired and worked with Tyra Banks to do an interview and social media piece for OPPO mobile phones during their season long sponsorship of America's Top Model. The entire campaign was incredibly comprehensive - integration in challenges, product placement in the show, social media, branded content from behind the scenes, a microsite, premiere party sponsorship, winners tour of Asia and more... happy to tell you more about it as it was a crowning moment of glory bringing all of that together into one massively successful partnership program!
Podcasts definitely fall into the ‘wild wild west’ arena as far as a practice as it is so new, but successful programs can be built on a cost per thousand (CPM) audience basis that is similar to a media buy, but with really good organic conversations that are built in to the episode, creating natural content takeaways. Plus you can buy pre-roll and mid-roll ad spots that can help provide even more of an impact to the conversation going on in the podcast.
And then Radio is option too – as long as there is a digital overlay built in, and most likely driven around talk radio with hosts who can really get behind a conversation about the brand versus call outs on music stations. Although there can be some really fun music radio partnerships which include at event concert activations that are carried over to the radio programming with call outs and sponsorships, and other options to create content that is pushed out through the radio station as well.
For apps, one of the fun things we've done that has gotten a lot of engagement is to craft a program where callers have to download the app in order to get access to an event the radio station is hosting, or a comprehensive music concert series in select towns that sweepstakes are entered through downloading the app.
And let's not forget influencers - who are a content making machine of their own right, and one that most brand marketers are trying to figure out how to incorporate into their own marketing plans. Influencers span the gamut from YouTubers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, Twitterites and Pinterest pinning machines. They create their content, design the layout, shoot their photos and videos and write something that will grab their engaged fan bases attention. We write A LOT about influencers, and are going to provide a number of blogs to help you learn more. But in brief - as a brand marketer, you need to figure out how to work with these gals and guys, as they are here to stay for at least the next few years, and their capabilities at creating content and distributing it to their fan base are unparalleled. You just don't want to mess that partnership up - so if you have a chance, make sure you check out our recent agency report on influencer marketing at https://learn.hollywoodbranded.com.
Here are a few blogs to read - we have dozens more for you to check out too on our site.
- 3 Insights To Create Affordable Influencer Marketing Campaigns
- 3 Things Brands Need To Understand About FTC Guidelines On Influencers
- 3 Tips To Make Your Brand Appealing To Top Social Media Influencers
- 5 Signs Your Brand Should Invest in Influencer Marketing
- 8 Step Guide On How Much To Spend On Social Influencer Marketing
- Why An Influencer Isn't Responding To Your Inquiries
Ready To Get Your Brand Into Content?
I've covered a lot of content partnership options in this blog, and no doubt you have some more questions. Be sure to read a few of the following articles our team has written which will provide more clarity, and give us a call to chat through any questions you may have!
Product Placement and Content Marketing are fun. A lot of fun. And they give you some fantastic social media content to share through your social platforms, as well as great fodder for board and investor meetings. Celebrity sells. They sell movies and content in Hollywood everyday, and brands have a fantastic opportunity to jump on that sales bandwagon as well.
To learn more about making product placement work for your brand, read our blog on 3 Reasons Why Productions Use Product Placement, as well as these blogs:
- 4 Common Myths About Product Placement Debunked
- 10 Surprising Reasons Why Brands Do Product Placement
- 8 Ways To Use Product Placement Assets To Amplify Your Brand Into Sales
- 3 Important Steps In Planning Product Placement Strategy
- Thinking Product Placement Cost Is High (It Isn't!)
If you want to master influencer marketing, and get your head around the best practices (and what to avoid), our team has created an online class which offers basic, comprehensive and advanced knowledge programs from you to learn from.