Product Placement: Marketers Hit the Road to See What’s Coming

Sep 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

By Allison J. Waldman

Special to TelevisionWeek

Innovation, multiplatform performance and changes in technology will be top of mind for the more than 100 marketing executives from around the world who will convene in Los Angeles this week for RoadShow Hollywood.

Presented by The L.A. Office, the four-day event runs through Thursday at the Renaissance Hotel and other venues in Hollywood. The RoadShow is a chance for about 40 entertainment companies to present the upcoming releases, promotional calendars and partnership opportunities available in film, television, music and gaming for the year ahead.

“Contact is king. RoadShow Hollywood gives you the opportunity to find the right associations for the brands you represent, entertainment opportunities across multiple disciplines, not only film, but television and music, and they’ve added gaming,” said Devry Holmes of Norm Marshall Associates, one of the marketing professionals who will be attending.

RoadShow Hollywood is meeting for the ninth year, and the 2006 edition has some significant changes in store. Industry Insights at RoadShow will precede each presentation day, providing event attendees with insights about the entertainment medium to be covered. The Inside Track is a concise show-and-tell that gives marketers a chance to explore and identify the promotional opportunities coming up in the next year or two. Each property presentation identifies what entertainment companies are looking for in potential partners, marketing opportunities for each property and much more.

Another new element to the convention is Networking RoadShow, described as “the ultimate relationship-building event and your entree into Hollywood.” It’s an opportunity for senior entertainment executives and marketing professionals to interact with peers and learn about the development of projects that have only been talked about in the trades.

“You can learn a lot about what your partners’ plans are and what their aims are. You also learn directly from partner clients what their goals are for the year ahead,” said Arlene Manos, president of Rainbow National Network Advertising Sales.

As marketing professionals, Ms. Manos and Ms. Holmes have used the knowledge, connections and opportunities from previous RoadShow Hollywood events to successfully promote brands and place products for their clients.

Ms. Holmes negotiated a deal with NBC’s “The Apprentice” to launch a new product, Chicken Naturals, for Arby’s. “The concept was clearly to use the reach and magnitude of `The Apprentice’ to make sure the consumer knew about this new product rollout. We developed an exciting task where the contestants on the show had to write a jingle to bring not only Arby’s but the Chicken Naturals product launch to life in an engaging and exciting way.”

On the summer series “Last Comic Standing,” Ms. Holmes created a promotion for Capital One. “That was a product integration program and that was all about bringing opportunities through `Last Comic Standing’ to help the consumer know more about Capital One,” she said. “They sponsored seven episodes; they were the sponsor of the audience choice voting. They also put up the $1,000 cash reward for contestants who moved on to the next round. Overall, Capital One received 14 visuals and 14 live mentions.”

Reality television shows are prime opportunities for product placement and integrated promotions, but not every product lends itself. “We’re looking for a fit,” Ms. Manos said. “If it looks and feels like a commercial, everybody loses. It is not a 30-second spot. When you’re looking for those appropriate touch points for a brand, the entertainment property still has to be serviced, meaning you have to bring their vision to life with the right brand connection. Certainly with a reality show, like “The Apprentice,” we’re able to give more concrete brand messaging in an engaging and entertaining way.”

Ms. Manos worked with WE: Women’s Entertainment to market products in its original programs “Style Me With Rachel Hunter” and “She House,” hosted by Teresa Keegan.

“Fashion is very popular with WE viewers. Both L’Oreal Paris and PayLess Shoe Stores were involved with that,” Ms. Manos said, referring to “Style Me.” “They taped at a L’Oreal Paris location in New York, and in the final episode Rachel Hunter was made up for a red carpet event using L’Oreal products exclusively. Their products were very, very indigenous to the show.”

For “She House,” HP’s Pavilion slimline computer and HP’s 50-inch high-definition plasma TV were incorporated into the design of the house and used in the program.

Focus on Branding

RoadShow Hollywood offers a full day of events Sept. 20 exploring how branded entertainment is being incorporated in television. Attendees can choose from two tracks: Kids and Family, and Teens and Adults. Within those tracks, the programs examine how new technologies, such as TiVo, iPods and downloading, are impacting advertising.

“There’s a lot more clamor on the part of advertisers about commercial breaks; they’re worried about TiVo and DVRs. Our business has to respond to their concerns,” Ms. Manos said. “But people still watch TV commercials. There’s certainly experimentation with these other methods. There’s no question that there’s more competition, but how many people are truly watching a full episode of a show on a cellphone?”

One thing is certain: The future of product placement and branding will continue to evolve and become more sophisticated. “The production community has done a brilliant job for years in bringing brands to life because brands say something about character. And because it is not perceived as a commercial, it can showcase your brand in a way a commercial cannot,” said Ms. Holmes.

RoadShow Hollywood is a way to bring it all together, integrating positive relationships and productive campaigns. “You have more people in the mix now trying to make it a win-win situation and helping the creative community understand what the brand is trying to achieve and how they’re special and how they want to be seen by their targeted consumer,” Ms. Holmes said.