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The Ultimate in Influencer Marketing: TV Product Placement

Our philosophy is that we live in a branded world. Smart, strategic consumer-facing companies are wise to architect ways that ensure consumers (real and potential) are engaging with their branded products and services in memorable, persuasive and/or pervasive ways. Such engagements do not have to be overt. In fact, sometimes subtle, unobvious methods of consumer engagement are the most effective.

A Recent Example of Savvy TV Product Placement

The impetus for this post lies in the latest episode of Black’ish and the strategic way in which State Farm Insurance influenced the plot line of the episode to focus on State Farm Insurance’s charitable initiative. Long episode short: the lead male character works in a marketing company. State Farm Insurance is a new client of the marketing company. State Farm Insurance has created a new charitable initiative and has tasked the marketing company with the creation a new campaign for the charitable initiative. The lead male character then embarks on a personal journey examining his own relationship with charitable donations.

Cut to the first commercial break and wouldn’t you know: the first commercial was State Farm Insurance’s actual new charitable campaign, which was the exact same one that was featured in the Black’ish plot line. Fascinating!

This campaign seemed to push the envelope. We’re all used to overt displays of products in TV episodes: ever notice, that Carrie Bradshaw only every used a Mac computer, whose logo was prominently displayed? But in this instance, real life and make believe seamlessly converged into a robust 30 minute reinforcement of State Farm Insurance’s charitable campaign.

Powering the Collaboration: Legal Agreements

Such types of relationships, between the brand and the medium of influence (be it, TV, film, a music video or even an Instagram celebrity’s social media feed) are carefully negotiated and drafted agreements. Some of the terms that should be considered include:

  • What type of intellectual property is being licensing?
  • How can the intellectual property be used?
  • What are the restrictions? (i.e. certain plot lines that the product/service cannot be associate with? Other brands that the product/service cannot be displayed with?)
  • Who has artistic integrity as to how the product/service in integrated?
  • Is there an approval process?
  • What are the performance requirements? (i.e. would a passive logo placement suffice? Is the product to be a component in the actual plot line? How many times does the product/service have to be displayed?)
  • What are the fees associated with the product placement?

Of course, in addition to these business terms, there are additional provisions that should be carefully carved out, negotiated and drafted: indemnification, representations and warranties, termination, remedies, governing law, confidentiality, etc.

Ultimately, seamless integration of the branded product/service with the public medium is oftentimes as successful as the carefully architected agreement that is the foundation of the collaboration. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Product placement is an investment. Make sure that your demands are accurately and precisely conveyed. And if they aren’t abided by, make sure that you have the appropriate amount of legal teeth to enforce your rights.