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Posts Tagged ‘product placement’

twilight1Everyone by now has heard of “Twilight.” You have either read it yourself (meaning you are probably a woman); you’ve heard about it from your girlfriend, wife, or daughter; or you’ve seen it publicized on TV or the Internet. I admit, I am a die hard “Twilight” fan. I have almost completed the entire saga; I only have 300 pages left of “Breaking Dawn,” which I’m absolutely loving so far!

Contrary to what some critics said about the movie, I thought it was very well done and stayed true to the book. I had very high expectations for passion1 the film and especially of Edward Cullen in particular. Sure the screen writing could have been a bit stronger, but overall, the on screen passion between Edward and Bella felt real, and the beautiful, Northwest filmed cinematography was spectacular. Even my boyfriend, who is a film major, thought the movie contained some stunning outdoor cinematic shots. My favorite scene of the movie is when Edward is climbing (or more like running) up a 200ft tree with Bella on his back. At one point the camera pulls from a close up to a panoramic view and reveals them standing near the top of the 200ft tree. It’s remarkable camera work that you can tell was not green screened!edwardbellatree

Since I am a PR major, my mind is often naturally thinking about public relations things, such as how I could creatively promote something, or how a company could promote something better. While I was in the theater thoroughly enjoying “Twilight,” I noticed some definite intended product placement. Can anyone guess what I’m referring to?

Well, I can tell you that it’s not Bella’s 1953 Chevy truck, or Edward’s Volvo S60 R, or even Rosalie’s BMW M3rainier506d1 convertible. I’m actually talking about Charlie’s and Billy’s drink of choice: Rainier Beer.

If you don’t know already, Rainier beer is a Northwest born and brewed beer. Stroh Brewing company has slacked local thirsts in the Georgetown area of Seattle for more than a century now! Once prohibition ended, the owners of the brewery installed a giant, red “R” neon sign (visible from I-5) that later became a local landmark. In the 80s, the climax of Rainier Beer’s popularity, the brand produced some of the region’s quirkiest and popular advertising, such as the running of the RainBeers (a herd of bottles with legs sticking out of them) and a motorcycle whose gears shifted to the whine of the product’s name. The brewery became the fourth largest in the world. In 1999, Rainier Beer was sold to Pabst brewing Company and soon after the famous “R” sign was taken down.beer091

I thought it was very clever and refreshing to see the movie use a locally brewed and nationally recognized old-time beer favorite. Charlie, the protagonist’s dad, referred to Rainier Beer as “Vitamin R.” There were at least three scenes that showed Charlie getting back from the store with two, 6-packs of Rainier “tall boys,” or slugging down a can of Rainier Beer while listening to Bella talk. There’s even one scene where Bella says something like, “Here dad, have another one of your favorites,” referring to the beer. I found the product placement to be very appropriate. Obviously Pabst Brewing Co. had to give Summit Entertainment permission to use the beer in the film. You would also have to assume that they probably agreed on some financial arrangements for the beer to be used, because I can assure you that Rainer Beer was not incorporated into the “Twilight” books, written by Stephenie Meyer.

It’s interesting because Pabst Brewing Co. has not really invested in advertising in over 20 years. It’s also interesting that it is hard to find Rainier Beer these days. Many stores and restaurants do not even stock it anymore. I worked at a restaurant this summer, and we sold Rainier Beer… let’s just say on more than one occasion I made guys’ days because of that.

I would categorize this type of PR promoting as “guerrilla PR.” I don’t think the intention of Pabst Brewing Co. or director, Catherine Hardwicke, was to revamp the brand name of Rainier Beer, as so much as to honor the Northwest region by using one of its own products as a prop.

I wonder how the product placement of Rainier Beer in “Twilight” will affect (or not affect) sales. What do you think?

Even at a vampire movie my mind is still thinking PR. Is that strange?

If you have a minute you should definitely check out this old-school Rainier Beer commercial. It’s pretty darn funny.

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Recently I read an article “Automakers Push Key Vehicles Through Fall TV Shows” by Bree Fowler that struck my interest. The article discussed how auto sales are at a 15-year low, and how TV advertising is less appealing and watched than ever before. What do you think is the reason for all of this? Well, I can imagine the 15-year lows in auto sales would have something to do with, let’s see, the economic crisis, high gas prices, and environmental issues with cars. So what about the reasoning for less appealing TV advertisements? Well my friends, that reminds me of my new favorite TV accessory, (that nearly comes with all Comcast and DirectTV packages), the all-mighty DVR (digital video recorder), where you can fast forward and skip commercials! Hallelujah! While this may be awesomely convenient for viewers like me, companies like General Motors Corp. (GM), are having to adapt and change the ways they advertise and communicate with their consumers.

So, GM has decided to hop on the successful band wagon of…product placement. “The idea is to grab the attention of consumers without being too obvious, while also creating a positive image for the automaker,” said Kelly O’Keefe, an executive director of an graduate advertising program. When done effectively the advertising strategy can greatly boost sales. The only thing GM has to do, is to provide their products for free, which is very affordable compared to the alternative of spending excessive amounts of money on commercial advertising, said to O’Keefe.

Where will you see GM cars in this fall’s TV lineup? In NBC’s new drama “My Own Worst Enemy.” The show’s main character is played by Christian Slater, who has split personalities. There’s Henry, a family man who drives GM’s family-oriented Traverse crossover, and then there’s Edward, a secret gun-loving agent who speeds around in GM’s new Camaro sports car.

Being the observing PR student that I am, I think this is an excellent and innovative advertising/publicity strategy for GM. The whole situation just reminded me of how times are changing and what used to work yesterday, isn’t always going to work today, whether we’re talking about technology, finances or political views. Change is all around us, and products, people, and businesses are going to have to adapt if they’re going to survive. It’s not like I’m a big fan of GM (in fact, I only buy Honda, Subaru or Toyota), but I’m glad they’re taking the progressive steps they should be. “It’s not just a byproduct of the DVR system, it also puts the product into a different context than an ad,” O’Keefe said. “It’s something that complements it.”

In terms of whether I believe this will work for GM, my sources say yes. We all know that product placement (more or less) generates positive results. Maybe that means that the featured product will only be seen and not bought, but regardless, you’re creating consumer awareness, and that’s better than not being seen at all. Any coverage is better than no coverage, right?

I think this can especially work if the TV show is well received by viewers. “When you’re integrated into a program, your product adds a presence and becomes a character in a way,” said Dino Bernacchi, GM’s director of marketing and branded entertainment. So besides bringing awareness, and short-term sales benefits, the integration of a product into a show can turn it into an overnight icon. This reminds me of my favorite show of all time “Sex and the City,” where the character, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), would frequently buy Manolo Blahnik’s and other expensive fashion brands. For me, that shoe will forever be tied to “Sex and the City,” and although the product placement of Manolo Blahnik’s never convinced me to go out and buy a pair, (I would never pay that much for uncomfortable high heels!), it raised an alertness of the product for me. Another example of a iconic product that will always be remembered in TV history, is the bright orange Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Whether or not “My Own Worse Enemy” will greatly boost GMs sales for this year, the viewers of the show will recognize, and be exposed to GM’s 2009 lineup of cars, even if we use our DVRs.

“My Own Worst Enemy” has only aired two shows so far, and I’m not sure what I, or other ratings are say about it, but I definitely give GM two thumbs up for staying “in-tune” on their strategic (and possibly sneaky) advertising tactics.

Christian Slater in the all-new GM Chevy Camaro

Christian Slater on set of "My Own Worst Enemy" in the all-new GM Chevy Camaro

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