Product "casting"

In our previous blog we discussed the identifying characteristics of brands, specifically, color. We then threatened to continue the conversation with a look at how props, wardrobe and set pieces identify characters.  So, let’s do that. There are many ways characters are identifiable. Their physical appearance is the first. If you would like to convey, say, a hearty, older man, then the casting of an actual hearty older man is certainly the easiest way to get it across. If he is ethnic, again, the casting does it all.  But once that’s done, the ball is thrown to the wardrobe, prop and set people often working with an experienced product placement agency. So, this hearty, older man; is he rich or poor? If he’s poor, wardrobe will likely take the lead dressing him in worn clothing. No product placement there, since most brands would rather not be displayed in lesser condition. But if he’s moneyed, look out! His Armani suit, Rolex watch, Gucci shoes, etc. tell the story.  A techy Millennial character stares into a Smartphone, a hipster tops his tats and beard with a Brixton snapback cap.  We see the character’s clothing and accessories and we can know who we’re dealing with.

Then there are his possessions,. In this case the low earner is probably more difficult than the high earner. With the rich guy, we know that everything needs to be expensive; the best car, the best office chair (yes, that was a plug for HERO client Haworth, makers of the Zody and Very chairs), the best gin (another plug, Aviation American Gin – Wine Enthusiast’s highest rating ever for a gin), the best product placement agency (okay, that was probably too much), etc.

The “whos” you see on the screen are almost entirely identified by the “whats” you see around them.  So, the set, prop and wardrobe people on a production are actually more like casting agents; they must cast the appropriate items to make the actor look like the character he or she was “cast” to be.