The Power Of Holiday Movies For Brand Marketers


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Tis' The Season For Brand Marketing

There is nothing like the holidays - it brings families together and sends everyone racing to the TV to find a movie they can all stand to be able to watch together in pleasant silence.

Now is a phenomenal time of the year for brands who were forward-thinking about product placement and proactively targeted holiday movies as part of their entertainment marketing strategy. Those brands not only make a massive impact in the present-day of that original film release but are guaranteed re-delivery throughout the holiday. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares the evergreen value of product placement and integrations in annually viewed holiday films and the benefits brands can enjoy from these partnerships.

The Power Of Holiday Movies For Brand Marketers - 11.28.22

Elf Has Been Seen Over 600 Million + Times (Conservatively)

Let's look at the movie Elf, starring Will Ferrell, James, Caan Zooey Deschanel, Jon Favreau, Peter Dinklage, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Mary Steenburgen.

In the last two years (and this holiday season has not even played out yet...) Elf has aired FIFTY times on broadcast and cable TV. In the next month, it's projected to air at least another 20 times based on previous years. I know this because I ran a search on Critical Mention, our agency's preferred monitoring media database that tracks our client's verbal mentions in all types of content, including TV, radio, and the internet.  

So far into this holiday season, over 29 million people have seen the film - an extra 15 million per year. And that happens every year. Over and over and...well, you get the picture.  Keep in mind Elf was originally released in 2003 to a global audience of around 35 million people. I would estimate that the film is seeing at least that many a year still because the figures I quoted do not include anything besides broadcast and cable TV. It doesn't consider premium cable, streaming, on-demand, pay-per-view, airplanes, hotel rooms, pirated copies, DVDs, ancient VHS, or any other viewing.  That 15 million a year is just a small example of the number of eyeballs on the film - just in the US alone.  So conservatively, since the movie began, let's call that over 600 million impressions.

10 Memorable Quotes from Elf Movie!

Photo Credit:

Cost Of Product Placement

Agencies like Hollywood Branded typically charge in a range of $30k to $500k per year for a product placement program. These programs act like ongoing PR agency work for earned media. 

Brands are dropped off on targeted sets after the prop master or set decorator, wardrobe designer, or transportation captain has had discussions with the product placement agency on what clients would fit. That might require a fee paid to the production, but more often than not, it is a trade or loan of product for these organic product placements. 

I can tell you that back in 2003, films were rarely getting paid money for product placement, and co-branded promotions were the way large companies could better guarantee placement. Not the almighty dollar. But let's pretend that any of those brands paid to be in the film - and what those impressions would mean on a CPM level.

For brands that were with a product placement agency, let's pretend they paid $180k per year for their whole program. Now, that included lots of placements that the agency would be securing for them, not just one. But let's pretend again that it was only this one single solitary placement. If the brand paid $180k to be in the film - with that 600+ million estimated impression minimum, that is a CPM of under thirty cents. It costs that brand less than thirty cents over 19 years for every 1,000 impressions. 

That is very affordable advertising. And it gives the brand tremendous clout as being one of the best brands out there as well - as the brand had to be approved by the director and key actors. In fact, that brand was literally cast to be in the scene. 

And that's what a product placement agency does for brands. They get the individual brand in front of decision-makers, explains the why behind the reason it fits, and works to have those decision-makers' cast the brand into that prop, set or wardrobe role. 

Brands Who Won With Product Placement In Elf

A shout out to Joshua Ravetch, who led Newline's production resources department for Elf. He is an awesome guy to work with, and besides being now a famed playwright of his own making, is still in the entertainment marketing business today, representing films to source brand partners.

Brands that were in Elf who are still winning from that product placement include:

  • Tamiflu Antiviral, Saks & Company, Lego, Kodak, Kellogg's Pop-Tarts (thank you very much I was responsible for that one!)

  • Kangol, Hershey, GUND, FedEx, Estee Lauder, Empire State Building (yes - product placement works for them too - it's one of NY's top tourist attractions very much so because movies keep it as a go-to destination.)

  • Bloomingdale's, Babybjorn, Aldo, Sony, Nike, New York Jets, Rocawear, NFL, Coca-Cola, and Chanel (I was responsible for that one too!)

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So if you follow my logic, you might join me in surmising that brands would be absolutely crazy to ignore the opportunity to jump on the holiday movie train by getting their brand to be either part of the storyline or used as a prop or set dressing. Holiday movies are one of the best ways to leverage product placement to its max.

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It's Not Too Late For Holiday 2023 - Or Too Soon For Holiday 2024

And on that note - we are working on a few holiday movies right now for clients for 2023 and 2024 - so give us a shout if you want to leverage the power of Hollywood and holidays.

Types Of Holiday Films

Product placement is just one of the reasons why holiday movies are a favorite for brand marketers, and sometimes it's interesting to see what movies end up being cast in the role of being a holiday movie themselves when Santa or Thanksgiving is not at the heart of the story. Films including It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Office Christmas Party, The Grinch, Santa Claus, Christmas with the Kranks, A Christmas Story, Bad Santa, and something like over a 1,000 TV holiday romances from Lifetime, Hallmark, and Netflix are all go-to season watching.

But movies that happen to have a scene around mistletoe, Christmas trees, and holiday lights are just as good as holiday show-watching anchors. Gremlins, Harry Potter (hey, Harry got his first Christmas gifts!), Die Hard, Jerry Maguire, You've Got Mail, While You Were Sleeping, Catch Me If You Can, and even The Godfather (the scene early in the film where Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is shot by rival gangsters during Christmas - a stretch, but there is a link) still bring the holiday spirit into homes.

And for producers out there reading this article to learn how you can better entice brands to join your film, don't forget to ask your writer for a holiday scene; you can add shelf life and viewing potential if you do so.

So How Does Product Placement Work?

I was recently interviewed by The New York Times on the secret marketing power of product placement. This is one of the core tactics we build programs for, and I share insights on building the right Hollywood relationships and how to maximize budget to get the best outcomes and grow revenue. It's super fun and interactive - how often does your mouse become a Perrier bottle?!? Check It Out Here!

Another Tactic That Works - Proof Of An Engaged Fan Base

My husband and I did what has seemingly become a holiday tradition in our home this weekend. We accidentally started watching Harry Potter. Why not. It's on endlessly; we like it, you can fall asleep on the couch and wake up minutes or hours later and still know what is kind of going on. Easy, hassle-free movie watching. Part of the movie takes place during Christmas...with presents and a tree for Harry for the first time ever, as I mentioned before. So I suppose the marathon makes sense...and it's fun for all ages to watch together.

This time though, there was a little less napping, and as we managed to start watching during SyFy's non-stop Potter marathon early in the actual first movie - we found ourselves with a question about a fictional sport.

This led us to a lot of Googling, figuring out the rules of the game, and ultimately sending us into having the conversation that people do play Quidditch and run around on fields clutching a broom (even though they can't fly). That is some ENGAGED fan base. 

Now we at least understand how the game is scored. By the way, there IS a little more to it than just catching that impossible and death-defying golden snitch. Your team needs to make sure they are not down in points, as the game immediately ends as soon as that snitch is caught. If you time it wrong, you could immediately end the game, and the other team could win if they have more overall points, as capturing the snitch gives 150 points.

How is that for some need-to-know sports trivia for you? Now you'll be better prepared to chat with that relative who is a Harry Potter fan. 

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Photo Credit: Gavia Baker-Whitelaw | The Daily Dot

Creating Licensed Products From Movies

Movies like Harry Potter don't have product placement typically. And that makes sense - because the brand is not adding to the story by better explaining a character or bringing the scene to life. It would be disruptive. Fashion brands are often an exception, as characters still need to be dressed, and the wardrobe department is not always up for creating everything from scratch when they need to. Like the product placement Converse had with Luna Lovegood, where the footwear adorned her feet naturally and was caught by a few eagle-eyed watchers.  

The way for brands to win with films like Harry Potter is through promotional and licensed partnerships. So many licensed product lines come about because of movies. The fandom that gets REALLY into the film wants a takeaway. It is like going to Disney and getting a pair of mouse ears for the memories.

That's why licensing works so well for brands interested in partnering with movies. After Dumbledor took a risk on caramel and ended up with earwax flavor, don't YOU want to give Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (by Jelly Belly) a try too, to check your luck? Or how about the K-Swiss footwear licensed collaboration?

Go check out our agency's infographic we built on Harry Potter brand partnerships to learn even more about how brands have leveraged the film franchise. You can get access to the article here

The new Harry Potter x K-Swiss shoes – from 31st July

Photo Credit: K-Swiss

Eager To Learn More?

The Hollywood Branded Blog library has hundreds of great posts covering all things entertainment and pop culture - from integrations and product placement to working with influencers and celebrities. And you should check out these links for a little more insight into placement and partnerships with television and film:

Want to know more about how product placement works? Look no further than our Product Placement + Productions 101 e-book. Click below to download!

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide