Behind The Scenes Of Brand Partnerships
It's no secret that various forms of brand integrations are located throughout media nowadays, and we've all seen talk shows incorporate brands through their prizes or in a segment of the show. In order for this relationship to be beneficial for both the talk show and the brand, a lot of planning and coordination has to takes place prior to the director saying "action!"
Our CEO Stacy Jones recently sat down with an industry expert who's handled hundreds of integrations on television. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the fascinating world of talk show integrations with Courtney Jackson of the Emmy-Award winning Steve Harvey Talk Show.
A Little More About Courtney!
Courtney is a seasoned professional in talk show partnerships. She has eight years of industry experience under her belt, with seven of those being at The Steve Harvey Show. Courtney's drive for constant learning and growth propelled her to quickly move up the ranks and eventually land as Senior Integrations and Trade Out Producer.
The hundreds of brand partnerships shes coordinated add up to millions in partnership deals. Courtney is a pleasure to work with- shes energetic, engaging and does a wonderful job of explaining her methods to success.
Interview Transcript Highlights
Question: Welcome, Courtney! Let's start off with telling all of our listeners today a little bit about your background and what got you to where you are.
Answer: I honestly think that for my entire life, I have been training for this position and for this branded entertainment world. Since I was very little, I have a dad who's in sales, and I have a mother who had dinner parties every week and is that outgoing one not afraid to talk to anyone. At the time I wasn't a fan. But, it has all rubbed off on me in all the good ways.
I kind of fell into it. I moved to Chicago when I was in a tough place in my life. I started my career off in fashion PR, and I quickly learned that I wasn't going to make a lot of money there. I didn't have the money to buy all the cool clothes that I felt like I needed to wear, so I decided I wanted to go into sales. Because, as my dad said, there are two professions in this world. You can be a doctor, or you can be in sales, and I didn't want to be in school for that long, so I decided on sales!
I worked at a magazine for a while selling ads, and when I moved to Chicago, I had started off as the assistant to one of the executive producers on the Rosie Show. Honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to do in TV. I didn't even know that that was something I wanted to do, I just knew that whatever I was going to do next, I was going to work my ass off and be good at every small detail there was. If my boss needed coffee, I would get her coffee in two seconds. I knew exactly what she wanted in her coffee. I knew what she wanted to eat before she even knew she wanted to eat it, and I got really good at that.
As an assistant, you get the opportunity to really see all the different departments in a TV show. As I'm looking around, I saw that there was an integration producer. This integration producer worked with such cool brands, General Mills, Sony, huge brands, and she had all this cool product in her office. I decided that's what I wanted to do. I wanted all of that cool stuff.
I was thinking one night about how I could ask my boss if I could maybe help out her a little bit, she was the integration producer. The next day, my boss calls me into her office, and said "I know that you have a marketing and sales background, and the integration producer needs some help. Would you be willing to help her?" I was like, "Shut up! You have no idea I was going to come into you today, and I was going to ask you if I could help her. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"
That's how it started. Two months later, I got promoted to integration coordinator, and unfortunately, that show finished really quickly. Luckily, the Harvey Show came to town in Chicago, and I started off there as the integration associate producer. I've worked my way up ever since. That's how I got into this position.
Question: Awesome! For our brands who are listening and agencies, how does it all work? I know that when we're representing a brand, we dial you up and we say, "Hey, Courtney, we were thinking that brand X, Y, Z would be perfect. Let's explore. Let's talk. Let's go a little bit deeper into this."
But, from a production side, when you either have a brand come to you, or you've gone out and you've sourced and found a brand for the show because it fits a story-line that you have. How does that side on the production work? How do you go through your approvals? How do you all decide if a brand's the right fit, and then stair-step it to work with the brands?
Answer: Great question. To start it off, a lot of people will assume when you work with a major celebrity like Steve Harvey that you have a ton of money, but that is just not the case. The shows are broke for the most part, and we need a position like me to offset those costs, right? From the trade out perspective, we will often work with brands, like you said, that fit the story.
We have about six producing teams who each produce a show each week. They will come to me with a particular story, and I'll take a look at it and read through it. If its a couple who has been giving back to everybody else and their 10 kids, I might reach out to Sandals Resorts to see if we can get them a vacation. Four nights, five days, airfare included - all that. Its important to get those things, because the shows are broke. We need the airfare partnership. And I tell them what type of exposure we can offer in exchange.
Then I take this and bring it to my executive producers. I tell them about the brand and what they are willing to give. In Sandals case, I would show the producers pictures of the resort. Then the producers will say yay or nay. If they say yes, then it's a go, but if they say no, then it's back to the drawing board. Every producer is different and sometimes they don't want the offer I presented. The producers might provide a counter offer and I go back to the brand with that. If it doesn't work out, then I go to another brand that might.
Question: If a brand comes knocking on your door, either through an agency like ours or brand direct, and they say they have an idea, how do you go and approach that?
Answer: It depends on who the brand is, right? Let's do a whitening company because at-home whitening's getting really big. They come to me, saying they really want to be on Steve Harvey and tell me what they want to do. If its something that is a fit for a paid integration, I ask them their budget.
When I get the budget, I let them know our fee and the exposure they would get with that integration. Then I pitch it to my executive producers. The executive producers provide me with their availability and then I decide on a date with the brand.
If the brand doesn't have a budget, they need to come to the table with a great product to give away. Every show is going to want the coolest product, because that will turn heads. Everybody wants the Beats by Dre. Everybody wants the Kitchenaid. Everybody wants a TV. Know that if you're coming to the table, and you're asking me for a trade, you can't do a bundle deal of soaps and throw in a whitening tooth. It can't be all these different brands. It has to be a value of $100 or more because, again, this is an exchange of products for our services, for the exposure on our show.
Question: Without revealing brand names, you can talk about category maybe, where have some brands crossed the lines or pushed the bar and the segment's not worked out so well because of that?
Answer: Great question. I feel like when it's the hardest piece of the puzzle that's just not fitting is when you have a brand that hasn't done integrations before, and they want everything. They want a website to go full screen and showing how you type in a promo code so that people at home know how to type in the promo code. You don't need to do that. It ruins actually the segment because you just took a very great segment to a paid promotion where people at home know that this is clearly an integration, and it turns them off.
A lot of times, we have brands that come in, and they want to micromanage everything, and they want it their way. Trust me. I get it. Because, at the end of the day, you need to see an ROI from this. You need results. It's why you're asking for more because you want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck. However, we know that, and we want you to get the biggest bang for your buck because we want you to come back. We want you to spend more money with us. We want to create a long-term relationship that works for both of us. Because if you're making money, we're making money.
My suggestion is trust your producers. If you're at a great show that is a Steve Harvey, an Ellen, they have hired the best of the best. They did not cheap out on a producer. They have hired the best, so know that you're going to them for a reason because what they're doing is working, and you want to be a part of that.
Trust your producers a little bit more. That integration producer's going to work with you. They're going to make sure that you get your messaging in there, but they're also going to make sure that you don't over cloud your segment with all this branding that then you lose your audience. Because we know when people tune out, and that's not what you want. You want people to stay tuned in for your segment. You don't want them to think it's a commercial because, hello, that's why commercials are going away. That's why you can buy ad-free on Hulu. It's why people want to skip forward.
I don't want to watch a commercial, so in my line of work, I work with brands. My job is to make sure that you get the best promotion out of this possible, but I want to make sure that it resonates with people at home that they want to then go around and buy your product. So, I would say that I get that people want to get more into their segment, but you don't need to pack so much into your segment to get an ROI. The more organic, the better.
There's another important thing, too! A lot of brands try to throw in so much language. They want a full paragraph for Steve to say, but you have to remember that when you're on air, reading copy can get very long. I have so many brands that want to throw in everything because we got this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, and they want it to be said in their voice. But, at the end of the day, you want it to be said in Steve's voice because Steve is the one selling your product, and you want people at home to know that Steve is actually endorsing this brand.
If Steve is giving a verbal mention to a brand and he starts saying things that you know he would never say, you just lost people. Because thinking how Steve would never say that stuff in real life. Again, trust your producer because I know that everybody wants to get all of their messaging in there and all of their talking points, and all of the details of their business, but that's not always in the best interest of your brand because you want to make sure that people at home clearly hear what you have to offer. Sometimes it's as simple as one sentence.
You want to make it so clear that people at home can remember it. People at home cannot remember a full paragraph. You need to simplify. You need to make that really short and efficient and concise, and with that you can hit a home run. It's the reason why people have come back to me for the past seven years. I have had so much repeat business because Steve Harvey can sell the crap out of a brand, but if he doesn't like it, it's not going to work.
Check Out The Podcast!
Courtney and Stacy's long time friendship makes for a fun and informative conversation to listen to. If you want to hear their whole conversation and learn even more about brand partnerships, then definitely check out the full episode below!
Brand b partnerships and integrations are everywhere we look, and it's important for both parties to be well versed in what makes a partnership a success. If you want to build your knowledge on this topic, check out some of our previous blogs about integrations below!
- 9 Steps To Successfully Plan A Talk Show Integration
- Best Coffee TV Product Placements
- Brand Partnerships In Incredibles 2
- Case Study - Brand Integrations In Black-Ish
- 3 Important Steps In Planning Product Placement Strategy
Subscribe to our podcast below so you won't ever miss an episode! We'll always let you know when a new one is available.