Editorial: Product Placement for Australia film? - Publication: Australian Financial Review

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Imagine Jennifer Anniston downing a strategically placed Coopers Ale on Friends, Eric Banna smearing Vegemite over his sultry love interest in Hulk 2 or maybe Mel Gibson sporting a pair of Dunlop Volley’s in the next Mad Max?

Product placement, the practice of strategically placing products and films and TV shows has been standard practice for the US film and television industry for the past twenty years, serving as both a cost effective promotions vehicle for assorted goods and services and a welcome source of income for production companies.

As yet relatively unknown in Australia, Los Angeles based placement consultancy Set Resources aim to make a serious bid for the Australian marketplace, targeting industry sectors, such as clothing, alcohol, food and beverage and in turn promote the global visibility of  "intrinsically Australian products," in television shows and films.

Compared to conventional advertising, product placement offers serious ROI and is now a standard component of many US ad agencies booking schedules. Unlike the hefty (US)$100,000 price tag of placing a single spot ad on cinema screens or prime time, TV, product placement isn’t limited to a one time appearance and fee, it travels timelessly with a production, crossing all media, from cinema screen, to video, DVD, online and beyond.

With the average cost of a film placement valued at $5,000 and the standard reach of a major studio distributed film in excess of a hundred million people (including all ancillary distribution), the average "cost per thousand" (CPM) of product placement translates to less than a dollar per thousand.

In operation for  over two years, Santa Monica based Set Resources typify a new generation of placement agencies. Representing clients such as Stolichnoya vodka, Lancombe skin and hair care and, Haagen Daaz ice cream, the company lay claim to unparalleled results for clients, defying the industry standard of 10- 12 placements every year, and achieving a rate of 25-30.

Set Resources have achieved placements on some of world’s highest profile films and TV shows over the last 6-12 months, including The King of Queens, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI (and Miami), 24 Gilmore Girls, and Will & Grace. Film placements have included The Hulk, The Matrix Reloaded, Barbershop, Bruce Almighty, Charlie's Angels II, Anger Management, National Security, Tomb Raider II, Terminator III, and the Italian Job.

According to MD Aaron Gordon, "last year, our client Stolichnoya vodka received more than  thirty placements over an hour of screen time. This equates to media value in the millions; including 400 million 'first-run impressions'; and five verbal mentions  Some of their placements included West Wing, The Sopranos, Just Shoot Me,  and Will & Grace".

Gordon further highlighted successes achieved for client Clos Du Val Winery, with the brand achieving  fifty percent of all placement opportunities available to them, despite competing against hundreds of other major brands. This success was underscored by Clos Du Val marketing head, Brooke Correll,  "Set Resources has more than delivered on their promises. Their purpose is to create brand awareness and it’s working.  It has been a great tool for us."

SR provide their clients with "Product Placement Reports" detailing a placement project synopsis, divulging the type of placement, cast, network, a summary of the specific opportunity, and the number of placements and their value compared to a paid spot.

Gordon elaborates, "we provide monthly reports to our clients that include a work overview placement results; footage from every placement; relevant demographic information for their placements; and media value of the placements. Additionally, we provide an end-of-the-year report that reviews their entire year of placements along with a 'high-quality' professionally edited highlight reel of their best placements for use in sales meetings, publicity efforts and internal reporting."  

A major component of Set Resources placement success stems from their unique stance on the production process. "Our production friendly model is such that we are constantly on TV/film sets to assist our contacts with their sets and scenes, not just to push products on them," says Aaron Gordon. " This creates a very good relationship whereby productions get what they need in a timely, helpful manner and our clients get tremendous exposure."

Building on their success as a placement consultancy Set Resources have recently established their own branded entertainment production facility, whereby they can create a client a show, from concept to finished production.

One current branded entertainment project includes a celebrity based TV series, looking at  home renovation of the stars and highlighting a homewares client. Future branded entertainment projects will see Set Resources active in industry sectors such as technology, automotive and a spectrum of retailers and service industries.

Other developing areas are celebrity seeding, entertainment relations, and strategic Hollywood partnerships. "Teaming brands with a celebrity vehicle can achieve a phenomenal impact with modest costs above existing advertising," says Gordon. "Set Resources works with promotions departments at every major studio and television network to create a match made in Hollywood, we also guide our clients through every step of the process, from negotiation to final execution."

"We will design and execute an entertainment relations and celebrity seeding campaign that incorporates your brand into film festivals, movie premiers, celebrity charity events, music tours and other special events," says Gordon.

To date, SR have given various clients high profile presence at events such as Sundance and Canne film festivals, the Oscars, celebrity golf events, Paramount and Newline cinema premiers, and assorted charity functions, including  the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Foundation

SR also instigate "celebrity gifting" activities (where a star gets free stuff in exchange for a testimonial). The company has focused heavily of late on Stoli vodka, with  gifted samples of the product gaining public acknowledgement from a growing stable of celebrities, including  Tara Reid,  and Bachelorette Trista Rehn,  and Craig Kilbourne of The Late Late Show (CBS).

Gordon believes his company has only tapped the surface of increasingly complex practices. "The future will see advertisers partnering with celebrities, high- profile directors and producers, they will potentially own their own productions and have significant say over how their products are used".


Written by Craig Stephens

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