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Old March 1st, 2009, 01:54 AM   #1
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Product Placement

I'm trying to determine the right time to begin calling companies/product placement companies regarding product placement/usage rights. Right now we have slightly under 2 months to go before shooting begins (I know we need to start) but we have yet to cast the film. So, I'm not sure if I should hold off on making product placement calls until the cast is in place because I know that's going to be one of their big questions. I was thinking that I might start with some of the smaller companies and then contact the larger companies once the cast is confirmed. Any suggestions? Thanks, Ryan
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Old March 17th, 2009, 11:04 AM   #2
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Well

... I scored a major deal with a champagne company here in NYC. I just hit up their marketing division and asked if it were possible to use their brand in my film. I let them know that it was an independent feature and that I wouldn't require anything from them at all (no money for budget and no free samples). They happily agreed as long as I promised to provide them with set stills so they may use it for marketing/promotion. There was no question as to cast or content. Now I don't know how big a company you're going for but it looks like you're working with a smaller budget similar to my own. I think you should just hit up their general contact info and send them an email. Offer to send them stills from the shoot and promise to treat their brand with respect.

I've attached the email I sent:

"Hello, I am an independent film producer and director embarking on making my first feature film. I would like to feature your brand in 3 scenes in the movie I'm currently working on. I do not require free samples of your product nor money to support the film. I would only ask for permission to have bottles displayed prominently on screen. I am available for further details if you wish to inquire more about the project or have any other questions or concerns. I look forward to your response. Thank you."

This was their response:

"Thanks for your email regarding XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. You are welcome to use our bottles in your film. If you have the opportunity to send us a video or stills of the scenes in question when they are finished, it would be appreciated as we can use them in our own PR."

I sent a follow up to let them know that my lawyer will draw up the paperwork. (My lawyer stated that although I did have an email response I still needed legal papers stating as such so if you don't have a lawyer, get one for this)
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Old March 17th, 2009, 02:21 PM   #3
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So.... You have to pay for the product you are using in the film, and take extra time to provide them with production stills so they can use them for publicity.

Sounds like they get the better end of the deal.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
So.... You have to pay for the product you are using in the film, and take extra time to provide them with production stills so they can use them for publicity.

Sounds like they get the better end of the deal.
Actually, I get the better end. Using this product placement works in a few different areas.

Before I had the brand attached, it was a tough sell (in this economy) to have anyone invest funds into my project. Everyone was interested but found polite ways of declining me. Once I got the brand behind me, 4 parties who turned me down before "miraculously" found some disposable income; 2 doctors, 1 lawyer and a group of 3 investment bankers. Suffice it to say that eventhough I'm fully funding the project, the money is now there for my next project.

Secondly, it protects me from being sued by the company for using their brand. Just recently P. Diddy was sued by Louie Vitton because directors used their clothing and hand bags in a Danity Kaine video and before that, T.I. and Swizz Beatz were sued by the same LV because they just so happened to film outside of their flagship store in ATL. Even with proper permits, having just the LV the label in the background was enough to stop that music video from being released.

Now of course my movie doesn't need the company's champagne to be a good movie, but having it in there adds a level of realism, a level of sophistication and gives it that much more "vocal power." You know the saying, "it's not what you know but who you know!"

Besides, if I have a major company advertising the fact that their brand is in my movie on their website, well that's just more promotion for a first time film maker like myself making a film on a $60,000 budget.

It's all about picking and chosing your battles when you wear the producer's hat. Sure I pay for a bottle of Champagne (actually I'm not, the club where I'm filming will allow me to use the champagne as back ground props) but I've gained a budget for a second project and free advertising when this first project is complete. And they won't sue me or hault it's release (film festivals or otherwise)
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Old March 25th, 2009, 01:09 PM   #5
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The earlier the better

My experience with product placement comes from running a major European radio network many years back (170 stations)

Two rules for successul product placement (by which I mean where substantial cash is exchanged for product or corporate visibility):

- you must show how the product will appear in the natural course of the film screenplay (even if it's a doc). since product placement should be unobtrusive (i.e. not like bmw's in bond) and natural it takes real advance planning. check your screenplay / doc concept for opportunities the match them up with potential sponsors, then run up a powerpoint with sketches or montages showing product integration ideas. be careful not to compromise artistic integrity though. and don't makie it a chistmas-tree of logos.

- all this takes lots of time and effort. especially in these troubled times. so two months is ultra-short. i tend to kick the process off much earlier, like 9 months before shooting.

Plus Ryan the 2nd is right about the cross-promotion, which can be very powerful tool to draw attention to your film.
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