An Open Letter to, “The world’s only online exchange about branding.”

First, our appreciation.  As one of the leading independent agencies dealing exclusively in product placement and brand integration, we are gratified to see our craft respected in media. But we may have something of value to add to your recent article on the brand placement in the 2015 Oscar winner for best picture, Birdman.

While you justifiably listed and explored the logical and artful inclusions of beer brand Stella Artois and provided honorable mentions for less prominently featured brands like Beefeater gin, Apple and Smith & Wesson, you seem to have missed a brand inclusion from HERO.  We bear you no ill will for this omission; the brand is featured so organically that its prominence could have been overlooked by your reporter, even if audience members couldn’t possibly have missed it.  In fact, not only aren’t we upset; we’re flattered.

HERO Entertainment Marketing makes placements in film and TV while remaining mindful of people’s feelings about brand exposures on screen. The rule is, if it’s in the audience’s face, they resent it. For this reason, we try our best to keep the brand’s presence organic. So, while your reporter was watching the film with an eye on logos, our client slipped past; just another appropriate part of the reality being created. No bells and whistles, no audience resentment, none of the ubiquitous force of marketing that can sometimes shift a viewer’s opinion to unfavorable. But our placement did have something the other brand’s screen time didn’t; an actual, real world ad for the brand!

Birdman 1That’s right, when Michael Keaton’s character is reading an article about himself in the newspaper, the facing page, clearly identifiable to the viewer, is entirely occupied by an advertisement for Lumber Liquidators, including the brand’s 800 number! The placement was made through the same channels as those your article covered and enjoyed generous screen time, yet it was so natural to the circumstance that even your comprehensive report missed it.

We hope you will re-watch the film and when you see Lumber Liquidators, we hope you will appreciate the subtlety of their presence… and maybe print an addendum?