“Art imitates life,” could be the credo of brand integration. If we imagine real-world use of a branded item, then simply using it wouldn’t always be the only interaction. Virtually any item we engage with could be the subject of conversation or repeated use. The same is true in scripted entertainment. For example, a character could just drink just one Sierra Nevada beer, or that character could drink several bottles and have his friend say, “Sierra Nevada! Cool. Got another one?” That is essentially the difference between a placement and an integration.
It could be argued that every placement is just integration light, but there is much more to it. Integrations generally include a greater screen exposure, i.e. characters discussing the brand or a TV commercial playing within the scene. Though this higher level of exposure can occur naturally through the writing or directing of the production, creating an integration will often require a fee. The trick to finding the perfect match of product and production is good old-fashioned agenting.
When an agency’s goal is to execute organic integrations, finding opportunities only within the scripted pages is far too limiting. HERO proactively seeks out branded integrations in a couple of ways. One entails tapping into our 1700+ industry contacts to see if they have something that fits, based on the client’s preferences. Another involves reaching out directly to productions that are already suited to the brand. For example, GAF Roofing is best suited to a show based on home improvement while Wine Traders International wants their upmarket wines to appear on screen with the well-healed. Once a match is made, we craft an agreement that specifies the exact exposure to be filmed and the fee the brand will pay. Due to the changes made during the writing, shooting and editing of the project, fees to production are often withheld until the “answer print” is locked, or until the production hits the screen. Working with a seasoned agency will ensure that the integration doesn’t get lost or diluted in the journey from script to screen.
To gauge the effectiveness of an integration, marketers rely on a stable of established analytical metrics. Most prevalent among them would be the aggregate number of media impressions the integration has amassed between all the various platforms (the exposure within the production itself combined with the number of views and “likes,” mentions and shares within social and other media).
Since integrations are, by and large, fee-based, the deals can happen with network ad sales, a film’s production resources department or directly with the producers. Since many of the projects into which a brand wishes to be integrated may not have a specifically scripted scene for the exposure, relationships with key production personnel are essential for creating opportunities. With 20+ years in Hollywood, HERO has established the contacts and goodwill to match our clients with the placements and integrations they desire.
With deeper integrations, the brand’s product placement agency will coordinate with the brand’s other marketing divisions to amplify their onscreen with their advertising and social media.