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Refrigerators aren’t movie stars, but they can pose a particular problem when they have a cameo onscreen. When Larry David casually opens the door in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” those shelves need to be full of food and drink, and each one of those items is likely to have a brand: Perrier sparkling water, Pacific chicken broth, Clover cottage cheese. Maybe there will even be a box of Cheerios on top of it, as in a recent episode of “Euphoria.” The fridge itself will have a brand, too, of course. All of this must usually be negotiated through carefully considered placements that give these products their 15 seconds (or less) of fame.

Product placement has long been a feature of Hollywood. Seeking a boost in brand recognition and association with cool characters, alcohol and car companies, especially, have for decades paid or engaged in a kind of quid pro quo to get their products into films. The first documented example was in 1896, when the Lumière brothers, often credited as the earliest filmmakers, agreed to feature soap in their film “Washing Day in Switzerland.” But the rise of streaming has led to an explosion in product placement. Brands are looking for new ways to get eyeballs on their products and productions are looking for creative ways to offset costs. Product placement is now a $23 billion industry, up by an estimated 14 percent since 2020.

“People aren’t paying attention to ads,” said Mike Proulx of the research consultancy Forrester. In a recent survey conducted by the group, only 5 percent of online adults in the United States said they rarely skipped ads; 74 percent said they often did. “It’s the holy grail for a brand to be integrated into the actual content itself.” But product placement, often maligned for its obviousness, has to walk a thin line between showing off the product and fading seamlessly into the background. “It has to be executed in a way that doesn’t feel like an advertisement,” Proulx said.

Agencies like Hollywood Branded connect the brands they represent with scriptwriters, producers, set decorators and prop-masters, who might in turn work them into story lines. (Hollywood Branded even has a warehouse full of discontinued BlackBerry cellphones, handpicked PassionRoses, minimalist eero Wi-Fi routers, and all manner of things they can ship to sets on a moment’s notice.)

“Products are part of our lives, they just are,” said Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded’s chief executive. “Say you have a Montblanc pen, you automatically think, That character has a pen worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.”

Source: New York Times | Read More