Can Creative Product Placement Be A Win-Win?
[Guest post by Owen Katz, Senior Integrated Producer at]
“‘s new autobio-docu-blockbuster—screened on Sunday at SXSW—focuses on (himself and) product placement, advertising, and co-branding in entertainment. This plot-less, conflict-less picture shows him searching for, courting, and securing sponsors, then satisfying those contracts into the final piece. It all happens on camera—it’s like watching the pre-production meetings as part of the final edit.,”
The brands that joined with Spurlock (Mini, , , and others) are taking a risk here, since we know he can be a major nuisance to major brands—think the demonization of in “Super Size Me.” The brands acknowledge this, sometimes on camera, and dive head first into the experiment. This is an exercise in transparency, a trend in communications that brands are happy to be associated with. (Spurlock claimed to have called every ad agency and got only one answer, from Richard Kirshenbaum of kbs+p.)
Hopefully this experiment will challenge brands to demand more seamless integration of sponsorship into entertainment. What we see now is often clunky, contrived plot mentions or gaudy billboarding in branded content discussion (and Nike ad), “ gives us a bigger budget. Bigger budget means bigger explosions.”and movies. It could represent a win-win scenario for advertisers and content producers. As said in his
Spurlock raised the $1 million for production via sponsors, and as he said in the Q & A, “This will be the first major doc to be in profit upon release date.” And he defends this giddy self-exploitation: “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in.”