Paying millions for product placement? Massive sucker.
Don't take my word for it. Jeff Greenfield, executive vice president of entertainment marketing firm 1st Approach, The Hollywood Reporter that advertisers who pay $3 million to $5 million for product placement/integration deals are "massive suckers." Of course, Greenfield was referring to a couple of shows in particular--you know, the ones with "The Apprentice" title attached to them. Of course, those "Apprentice" product placement advertisers --Sony Pictures Entertainment, Burger King, Mattel, and others--might tell you differently.
They might say that, in fact, those million dollar arrangements, which almost equate to hour-long infomercials, were effective in getting out name recognition or ringing up sales of product. Greenfield went on to say that "90 percent of the brands you see in shows are there for free... A lot of brands get in for free not because they're cool but because they happen to be there." Being there. Does "The West Wing" need some Johnny Walker scotch? You need to be a quick pourer. Could "King of Queens" use some Pop-Tarts on the kitchen set? Only if the cookie crumbles.
The biggest success story for unpaid product placement is with Apple Computers. As has been known for a long time, Apple has been the quickest in overnight delivery of laptops to almost any and all entertainment projects for two decades. As a result, Apple appears to be dominating the PC market in the fictional lives of TV shows and movies. Other executives think just the brand names of Apple, iPod, and Aston Martin alone will get you in the door. Perhaps you don't even need that.
Norm Marshall & Associates said it worked more than 10,000 product placements on TV shows and movies last year--all free. So where is the money in product placement? It's either in the hands of Mark Burnett or with long-time product placement agencies like Norm Marshall. It certainly isn't with the networks or movie companies. Market researcher PQ Media reported paid product placements were $1 billion in 2004, about a third of overall branded integration.
That means 70 percent of all deals--for the moment--are sucker-free.