Product Placement Gone "Wild"
When one is tasked with delivering a regular supply of blogs on product placement one would be well advised to read other blogs on the subject. That advice doesn’t just pertain to your humble HERO blogger, it pertains to the bloggers read by your humble HERO blogger! Case in point; the rampant exposure of REI in the film Wild.
Product placement for film and TV generally refers to the active process of pairing the right brand with the right scenario, generally as practiced by a professional product placement or advertising agency. But sometimes huge placements happen without an agency’s influence. In Wild, Reese Witherspoon portrays the real life writer of the book, Cheryl Strayed. Strayed handled a trauma in her life by taking an 1,100-mile hike, all by herself… with exception of her trusty REI gear. The REI gear made it through the trip, into the book and finally hiked right into the film on Witherspoon’s back.
This exposure was so exceptional that a blogger on the website Crushable.com took the film to task for its egregious shilling, referring to it as, “… one big product placement.” Good point, except the presence of REI was not initiated by the brand or any of its agencies. It turns out the brand provided Strayed with some super-cool customer service during her travels and she was accurately portraying her experience and sending them back some love.
Of course, this is the exception not the rule. A brand would have to do an awful lot of good will customer support to replace the results of an established product placement agency. HERO (plug alert) has placed categorically similar clients Columbia, Princeton Tec, and Outdoor Products on numerous stars including Kevin James, L.L. Cool J., Larry David, Michael C Hall (Dexter) and on and on.
So, our advice for getting a brand multiple top-flight exposures in film and TV is two fold: 1. hire a reputable product placement agency and 2. Be really good to all of your customers because you never know what the karmic pay-off might be!