Creating Winning Product Placements
Managing Director of Propaganda Global Entertainment Marketing, Inc.

Product placement specialist firm Propaganda is enjoying the attention from winning the Brandchannel Brandcameo Award for “Best Performance by a Product in a Supporting Role” for Audi’s appearance in the 84-million-dollar grossed film “Transporter 2.” Managing Director Daphne Briggs spoke to Inside Branded Entertainment about getting Audi into the spotlight, other hot film placements; going with an Independent Vs. Blockbuster; and finding the perfect marriage between and brand and story-line.

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The Audi placement in “Transporter 2” was obviously a big success for you. How did you make Audi stand out in this film?

In “Transporter 2”, Frank Martin’s car is quite literally another character in the film. His car needed to be the premiere driver’s car, a very powerful and finely tuned machine. There was no doubt that Audi was perfect for this film. My colleague Arden Doss recognized this and orchestrated this placement from day one.

Like their placements in “Ronin” and “Mission: Impossible II,” Audi longs for being associated with memorable moments in memorable movies. In this age of over-the-top CGI effects and stunts, it is important for Audi to be seen doing what they do best drive. With the exception of one stunt in “Transporter 2,” the Audis actually did what you see them do on screen. There was no trickery. These were real driving stunts.

The integration was months of working with the filmmakers and our client, yet, at the end of the day, the efforts were worth it. It was an amazing placement.

Some brands are becoming weary about straight product placement into films. How do you take film product placement to the next level and make a brand impact a viewer?

The trick is to find a project that fits our clients’ marketing objectives. When you see a film and the action stops to be a commercial for a brand, that’s a turn off. We pride ourselves on looking for natural integrations that make sense for the product and make sense for the brand.

What’s the art and science behind marrying the right brand and movie together?

I think it’s being strategic that makes it successful. For film and TV, we not only look at what’s currently going on, [but] our head is two years down the road. Does a particular actor have something interesting coming up? We take pride in being the experts on our clients; what they’re looking for; how they’re positioned; what their strategy is. It’s taking the essence of these brands and looking at the horizon and finding targets for what matches.

You work on Independent films like “Syriana.” What are some of the brands featured in that film?

I personally am quite proud of “Syriana.” For this particular film, negotiated through Warner Brothers, it was products and wardrobe that fit. Panasonic showed up in there. There’s a house phone, there are monitors and George Clooney’s character wears Lacoste [clothing] throughout the entire movie.

Are these more serious, Independent films open to brand involvement?

Independent movies need product integration as much as big films do. Whether it’s a tent pole or an independent. What makes sense for our client? What makes sense for the products? What makes sense for the movie? And it goes back to natural integration. It doesn’t matter if it’s an independent, with Oscar consideration or if it’s a giant tent pole.

Which brands have benefited from sales increases due to these placements?

There’s been quite a few. The two that always come to mind is Lacoste [and Bulgari]. Back when we did the movie “Hitch,” the character Alex Hitchens wears that green polo. The studio was kind enough to use [the shirt] in the trailer. Well after the Super Bowl, people were going to every Lacoste boutique in the country asking for the “Hitch” polo. That was incredible. And even with music videos, for example, Jennifer Lopez shot using Bulgari and right after, the request for the rectangular watch went through the roof.

Are brands open to working with smaller films or are they really looking to be in the Blockbuster hits?

It’s across the board. Our niche is sort of luxury brands and for some [clients], the niche movies are exactly what they’re looking for. They’re not interested in a big, splashy tent pole. For some of them, a May release with a Y demographic, doesn’t really suit them. Something more towards like the “Constant Gardner” crowd makes much more sense. So, all of our clients are open to the opportunity that makes sense for them and that’s our job to find them.

What have been your most successful film product placements?

I think it comes down to how we define success. For me, it’s the right product, the right character and the right situation. One of my favorites is Lamborghini in “Batman Returns.” Bruce Wayne’s the right character, Christian Bale’s the right actor and the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster was never seen before [the film]. It’s hot guy, hot car.

After the films have been featured in the theaters, how do you keep brands involved through the marketing?

In theory, a good placement is sort of the starting ground. Then there is promotion, sequels, the home video release and partnering with the premiere.

Hollywood and brands are on different calendars. How do you sync the industries up?

Organization and planning. Our film department forecasts out and is already looking at 2008. Years ago before I started with Propaganda, I was at Sony when Nokia launched. They started a new fashion phone and it hit right on time with “Charlie’s Angels.” I was on the studio side working with Propaganda and they successfully negotiated that. It’s knowing your clients, what they have coming and it’s also knowing what movies, TV shows, music videos and video games are coming. It’s just keeping your eyes on the horizon.

What about your plans for the Latin markets?

One of the exciting things about Propaganda is that it’s been global for fifteen years. The headquarters is in Geneva, the production office is in Los Angeles. We opened our Madrid office in 1999 knowing that Spanish language programming and productions, both being shot in Spain but also addressing the Latin market. The Latin market’s getting bigger and bigger. [Spanish] is the third most spoken language. We finally have someone on staff who is bilingual, so we could address these productions in their native languages. Now it’s time that we put our eyes on Latin and Central America.