In this episode, Stacy sits down with founder and director of Concave Brand Tracking, Dominic Artzrouni. The two discuss how product placement has evolved over the years and the ways in which it is most effective in the current market.
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- EP 110: Branded Content And Product Placement Strategy With Vatche Arabian | FLIR Systems
- EP 109: How Much Does Product Placement Cost
- EP 102: Product Placement With Gary Moore Of Dell
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- Product Placement Versus Brand Integration Explained
- James Bond Product Placement: The Definitive Timeline Of Brands In Bond
- How British Product Placement Law Is Different
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Stacy Jones: 00:01
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of Influencer Marketing and Branded Content Agency and Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics, which make a direct impact on your business today.
Stacy Jones: 00:17
While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money whether you’re doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
Speaker 2: 00:31
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones: 00:36
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today and I want to give a very warm welcome to Dominic Artzrouni, founder and director of Concave Brand Tracking, a company that tracks the amount of exposure and impact of a brand from product placement in TV and film content.
Stacy Jones: 00:54
Dominic founded Concave Brand Tracking back in 2013 by combining his background in business, data analysis, and market research with his passion for entertainment.
Stacy Jones: 01:03
Over the years, he’s worked with many major agencies and brands, including Dell, Anheuser-Busch, and Moët Hennessy. Their annual list for the most visible product placement brands in movies is one of a kind in the industry.
Stacy Jones: 01:15
Today we’re going to talk about measuring and valuing product placement, why it’s important for brands to be placed in the right context, and the future of product placement. We’ll learn what’s worked from Dominic’s experience, what could be avoided, and how some brands are just missing the mark. Dominic, welcome.
Dominic A.: 01:29
Hi, Stacy. Thanks for having me.
Stacy Jones: 01:31
So happy to have you on today. I have been looking forward to our conversation for weeks. What I’d love to do is have you start off and tell all of our listeners a little bit more about yourself, and what got you to be the movie fanatic that you are, that you created a business just to measure product placement.
Dominic A.: 01:51
I’d love to. As you said, in my past experiences I actually worked in data analysis and market research, most recently before I started Concave, but I’d always had a passion for movies.
Dominic A.: 02:03
Going back to by studies, when I was studying marketing, product placement was something that just seemed really interesting to me. I actually initially thought about having a career there, but back then in the UK, product placement was really not a thing. I went down another route but now I’ve found a way to bring together the experience I’ve had along the way and this passion of mine.
Dominic A.: 02:22
The interesting thing is that I was working in market research in fashion. Basically, after a few years of working there and started thinking about what my next steps were going to be, I took what I had learned there and saw how it could apply it to movies, taking the outsider point of view.
Dominic A.: 02:36
In the fashion industry, we literally had a company that would send people into store and record the prices and ranges in all stores like J. C. Penney, Gap, that sort of thing. Then, we would analyze these huge amounts of data to look at the price comparisons and the product ranges.
Dominic A.: 02:53
That was the background I came from. With that in mind I said, “Well, there must be something like this in product placement, surely, to find out every single brand in every single movie and comparing it.”
Dominic A.: 03:02
Very quickly I found out that, I think there were literally just a few big companies that had stuff that hadn’t been updated in five or six years when I started looking at those in 2013. I found there wasn’t. I ran with the idea. We started with an experimental 110 movies and about at the time we were using music video, about a thousand music videos, to have a proof of concept of what our data could look like.
Dominic A.: 03:26
Took us for a while, but we knocked on a lot of doors and now it’s five, six years later. Here we are, doing what we want to do, working with some of the biggest brands, and recording the brands in pretty much every single major movies, a bunch of TV shows, music videos. What I always wanted was to just bring a whole other level of insight to product placement and I like to believe that that’s what we’re doing.
Stacy Jones: 03:49
Well, it’s great because we’ve been doing product placement for a long time at Hollywood Branded. I’ve been doing it for over 24 years now. You’re right, there’s not a lot of companies that are out there who do metrics. Some clients, they don’t care. They’re okay with it. They’re like, “Oh, just give us the feedback and the agencies metrics that they provide.”
Stacy Jones: 04:09
There’s other companies, especially large ones, that really want to get an understanding of the marketplace. I think that’s where you have so much value, because you’re a third party that is able to come in and not actually say what something is, based on what the agency’s reporting, who’s done the product placement, but actually give feedback, again, third party-wise, that is non-associated where it’s very true data, overall.
Dominic A.: 04:39
Yeah, the third party status is really important for us, because we came in, we only do product placement market research, and we only do the research. Sometimes people contact us for placements, and then we refer them to other people, because that’s not what we do because we collect data for all the brands. We’re never going to be biased on making someone look better or anything like that.
Stacy Jones: 05:00
What are some of the trends that you’ve seen with product placement since you started back in 2013?
Dominic A.: 05:07
Since 2013, I think … In 2013, we started looking at the 10 years before that. I’d say over the last 15 years it’s become… Product placement has always appeared, brands have always appeared in entertainment, but I feel it’s become much more, I’d say polished, would be the word, rather than just brands appearing here or there, having a pizza box stuffed in someone’s face in one particular movie. We see brands that have strategies and the brands are appearing much more integrated and consistently but at the same time, they’re appearing more visibly.
Dominic A.: 05:37
One very interesting thing we found in the 10 years that we did, 2003 to 2013, a tiny thing that most people wouldn’t think of is the increase in the resolution of movies and TV shows makes a huge difference because even back in 2003, you’re looking at low … Even one level lower resolution, it’s a lot harder to recognize a can of Coke than when it’s on 4K.
Dominic A.: 05:59
I think that obviously helped, but in the meantime, also brands have become more thorough. They’re being more careful about what they’re doing.
Dominic A.: 06:07
Again, product placement people still think of the stereotypical brand in your face. We still see that sometimes especially in movies like Transformers but overall, brands have tried to avoid doing that.
Stacy Jones: 06:19
When you’re looking at the data, and I know that you review the content, and you list every brand that’s potentially actually in that content, and then you’re ranking how that brand appeared in number of times, can you share a little bit more about what you look at when you’re analyzing a film?
Dominic A.: 06:38
Absolutely. Again, coming without knowing the industry from an insider point of view, I just thought the beginning, what are the things that are most important. We break our metrics down to exposure, demographics, and context.
Dominic A.: 06:51
Exposure’s obviously the main one that most people are interested. We record what the product is, what the brand is, how long it’s on screen, so how many seconds, how visible it is, is it something that’s a close up, is it in the background, is it just discreet on the side, is the logo or the name visible. That’s our exposure metrics.
Dominic A.: 07:08
Then, what we’ve been doing the last few years is we use all of that along with the viewership and advertising costs that come up with the valuation. That, obviously, is the big number that’s most interesting. How much something is worth in terms of marketing advertising value.
Dominic A.: 07:22
Then, the two others that we think is interesting and that’s really for the brands that are interested in doing a deep dive on their portrayal is the demographics. Every time a brand is used by someone, we record that, so the actor. Then, we can look at a macro level what the average age, what the gender breakdown or what the ethnicity breakdown of the actors is. That can give some really interesting stats.
Dominic A.: 07:43
For example, the fact that probably won’t surprise you that majority of brands are used by men but it’s actually 70% of brands are associated with men as opposed to women. That’s still up for women year on year in 2018.
Dominic A.: 07:56
Then, in terms of context, we look at where a brand is being shown. Is a car appearing on a race track or is it appearing at a school picking up the kids? What is it being used for? Is a laptop being used by a kid to Skype someone or is it being used by the police to find someone using GPS?
Dominic A.: 08:14
We’ve record all of those metrics to then show brands not only how visible they’re appearing, but also how they’re being shown. That way allows them to see if that’s in line with their brand values.
Stacy Jones: 08:25
That’s interesting. I had not thought or heard that 70% of male were the ones using product placement. Honestly, it’s not something I would have even thought of, despite really my world being wrapped around this whole world too, to even think about. That’s fascinating.
Dominic A.: 08:41
I mean, unfortunately it’s because men get a lot more screen time than women, so that’s how it comes down to but yeah, it is interesting. Women are on the rise, as are it is also, in terms of ethnicity, it’s also becoming more diverse. It’s still mostly white actors, but in the 2018, Latino and Asian actors, mostly probably from Crazy Rich Asians, that they’ve been getting a lot more screen time and being a lot more associated with brands.
Stacy Jones: 09:05
Interesting. What brands have you seen that you think are doing it really well? You’re seeing them a lot in content and that might actually be two different questions. Which brands are you seeing a lot in content? Secondly, which brands do you think are doing really well?
Dominic A.: 09:21
We have our top 100 brands, as you mentioned, our 2018 annual report and to be honest, everyone who’s in that top 10 is doing a really good job. Obviously Apple, Dell, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercedes, Dodge, all the likes. They’re really applying what I think we’re going to talk later about the things that you should be doing, which is not focusing on one big property, but really appearing in a lot of movies, not necessarily in-your-face and by appearing in a lot of movies, there’s some that are going to do really well for you and some that are not, but that’s part of the business.
Dominic A.: 09:51
I’d say all of those, but again, the ones that consistently in the top, Apple was number one this year. Dell was number one a couple years ago. Ford is obviously … Ford and Chevrolet are always the biggest one among cars. Electronics and car brands, those market leaders are doing very good things.
Stacy Jones: 10:09
In all of those top 10 that you mentioned, they all actually have product placement agencies or internal divisions at their companies with very focused time spent.
Stacy Jones: 10:19
Product placement, for all of our listeners, it doesn’t just magically happen. If you’re a brand and you’re sitting by the sidelines like, “I hope and I’m praying that my brand is going to be in that feature film or that TV show.”
Stacy Jones: 10:31
Well, it could, but it’s not going to likely happen and it’s not going to happen to the degree that we’re talking about today, where there’s brands who are actually making very concerted efforts to make this as part of their marketing and advertising practice.
Dominic A.: 10:46
I think that one of the amazing things about pretty much all those brands we’ve talked about is the fact that a lot of people might think exactly what you just said, that they happen magically, because they’re so well integrated but really, it’s just that someone needed a car, they needed a bunch of monitors and there’s someone at these companies who facilitated that.
Dominic A.: 11:02
The thing is, again, all of those brands, even though people will notice them, they’re not the sort of things that would come to mind when people think of product placement, again, because they’re not shoved in their face.
Stacy Jones: 11:10
The other thing that people do not know who are listening, is that most of these placements that Dominic’s talking about and most of these brands, they’re not paying for their standard product placement. They’re actually making inventory available to the producers, the directors, the prop masters, the set decorators, or transportation departments, stylists, so that they can actually have at their fingertips product that they need to bring to life their scene and make it more real.
Dominic A.: 11:38
Yeah, whenever I talk to people about what I do and obviously they’re very intrigued by it, because it’s a very fun industry to work in, that is the biggest thing they always say, “Oh, that must have cost millions and millions of dollars.” I’m like, “No, they just knew the right person at the right time and they’re very good at their job about making sure they had product.” I’m sure you’ll agree, even when there is money that exchanges hands, it’s tiny compared to the budgets of these movies. Their priority is making a movie, not recouping the cost in terms of product placement.
Stacy Jones: 12:05
Right. Even with these blockbuster movies. You hear about Bond or Transformers and you’re like, “Oh my gosh. The brands are paying so much money to be in that.” They can be, for those blockbusters and they can be paying hundreds of thousands into seven figures, that really still is not much to that film.
Stacy Jones: 12:25
When you’re looking at independent films or smaller studio films, and you’re like, “There’s an opportunity for a $50,000 deal or a $150,000 deal or even $250,000.” That does not really save the production all that much money in the long run.
Stacy Jones: 12:42
That’s why this isn’t always such a money-driven deal and there’s other partnerships that are looked at such as co-promotion. Like with Bond, how can Heineken actually help co-promote the film through their advertising? That can be more valuable to the film versus getting hard cash.
Dominic A.: 12:59
It’s interesting you bring up Bond because I think one of the reasons people think so much money is going on there is because it’s so often misreported because the Bond one there was obviously this story about Heineken and they said something like, “Oh, they paid $20 million for the Bond [crosstalk 00:13:11].”
Stacy Jones: 13:10
Fifty. Fifty million.
Dominic A.: 13:12
Stacy Jones: 13:12
Dominic A.: 13:12
I mean, it was only on screen for seven seconds. People misunderstand that. They weren’t paying for the placement. They were paying for the ads. They were paying to use Daniel Craig in the commercials. They were paying for, I mean, if anything, for those stories but yeah. If anything, the placement was the easiest thing out of all of those.
Stacy Jones: 13:28
Right. Just …
Dominic A.: 13:31
Sorry, it was the same I think with the very first Superman with Henry Cavill where they talked about … I think they said something ridiculous like, “They’ve recouped their entire budget in product placement.” It does sound like they made a lot of money on doing all the partnerships that we’re talking about, but obviously they weren’t getting $2 to $300 million in product placement fees.
Stacy Jones: 13:51
No, what actually happens is we’re talking about saving the movie money to market. If the film is able to utilize Heineken’s $50 million to market the film for them, then that means the studio doesn’t have to pay that much money to reach the same number of eyeballs. Ultimately, the studio’s saving money. They’re saving their marketing budget but they’re not actually making $50 million from the overall deal.
Dominic A.: 14:19
Yeah, that’s right.
Stacy Jones: 14:22
Yeah, there’s so much confusion in the marketplace for this. What gets me is I read these articles and they’ll say, “Product placement now is a multibillion dollar business,” or “There was X billion dollars spent,” or, “This year there’s $365 million of money going through Hollywood for product placement deals.” It’s not true.
Stacy Jones: 14:47
I mean, I sometimes doubt myself, honestly. I’m like, “Is this happening? Is this something that our agency’s not familiar with? That somehow we’re not part of?” It’s not. It’s just there’s these outside parties that blow up the numbers so much and they report on the data and it’s misconstrued.
Dominic A.: 15:05
Do you have any idea how they come up with those numbers because obviously I see them all the time?
Stacy Jones: 15:08
I don’t. I have actually talked to people about it. PQ Media is one of the platforms out there where I’m still trying to figure out how they come up with their metrics on what their valuation is because you can talk to the biggest brands in the industry, like the ones that you’re mentioning, that you’re constantly reviewing and I know for a fact that they’re not spending tens of millions of dollars.
Dominic A.: 15:33
Stacy Jones: 15:33
They’re not even spending, in many cases, a million dollars especially with films. TV shows are a little different, because TV shows get wrapped up with media buys and with needing to buy $5, $10 million worth of TV time of media in order to get a starring role on certain broadcast networks in the United States. It’s treated a little differently but even then, it’s not millions and millions of media dollars.
Stacy Jones: 16:01
There’s only so many Modern Family’s that get a million dollar media, a million dollar product placement for Oreos and $5 million media to support. They only have 20-odd episodes a season. There’s only so much money that can be made there. It’s really, really weird where people get these dollars.
Dominic A.: 16:21
I could imagine that maybe if they’re adding together the cost of running the departments in all of those company, but even that wouldn’t get close to it.
Dominic A.: 16:28
In terms of the value that’s generated, as we’ve said, we run obviously the macro numbers, and I have them in front of me. I think in 2015 was a huge year for product placement, just because of the movies that were in it and we record about $1.2 billion in value. That was what was generated but it’s a lot lower. It’s more in the hundreds of millions but still that’s a fraction of these 10 billions that we’re talking about.
Stacy Jones: 16:53
Yeah and even with brands that would run campaigns, Dominic and I have talked over the years about BlackBerry, because that’s been a client of Hollywood Branded’s off and on through their ramp ups, ramp downs, changing hands and they’ve gotten a lot of exposure in different content from House of Cards to feature films and in reality, we’ve gotten billions of dollars of media value and impressions over about a 12-year time period because it adds up and everything goes into long running plays. It’s not even taken into account.
Stacy Jones: 17:27
With all of that, it’s just, it’s valuable and it makes sense but again, doesn’t have the dollars that are attached to it that people think, because all of that is obtained without paying for it.
Dominic A.: 17:43
Yeah and also a lot of what you said. You mentioned the impressions and stuff like that that comes out of the product placement, but it’s not directly the product placement. I’m glad you brought it up, because that is such an important part of it of building on the product placement. It’s not just about appearing, but also then about following it up.
Stacy Jones: 17:58
Yeah. What are some of your other stats? What else have they shown because I bet you have stats and figures galore that you could share with us?
Dominic A.: 18:07
I have, indeed. Just in terms of the value that was for 2018, there was $600 million of advertising value that was generated for, I think it was, for over 627 different brands. Sometimes, it’s literally just a pack of food that was in the background of one movie but then our top 100 movies that we have, they obviously got the lion’s share of that. Every single brand that was in that top 100 got over a million dollars in value and that’s gone up over the years. That’s pretty good.
Dominic A.: 18:41
In terms of if we’re literally just going for stats, in terms of the demographics, one of the interesting one, I thought, is what would you guess the average age of a product placement, the person associated product placement in movies would be?
Stacy Jones: 18:56
I’m going to guess, you could go young, you could go older. I’m going to actually guess older and say in the 40s.
Dominic A.: 19:05
Yeah, 42. That’s been pretty stable over the years but I was quite surprised to see that number, because we think of all the stars and everything, but obviously most background characters and established stars are older.
Dominic A.: 19:16
Obviously, those are fun stats, but what all this means, for example, what we’re talking about the gender breakdown earlier, is that if a brand wants to be appealing to younger people, they want to be appealing to a more female audience, it doesn’t actually mean that they have to be super young or super female oriented. It just means that they need to be pretty much 50/50 and then they’ll seem like they’re a female-oriented company.
Dominic A.: 19:37
I guess what that brings me back to as fun as all these stats are, it’s really important for brands to have an idea of what they’re trying to get out of product placement, not just in terms of the exposure, but in terms of what their brand image they want it to be. That’s why we do all these stats on the demographics and the context so that they can see if it matches up.
Dominic A.: 19:56
In terms of some others, actually, you mentioned BlackBerry in House of Cards is actually we put together some numbers. As you know, we did a study of Stranger Things that came out this year and that was the semi-official launch that we’ve also come up with a way of measuring … Well, of coming up with an estimate of how many viewers have watched Netflix shows and used because obviously now Netflix has put a lot of numbers, so it gives us some data to play around with.
Dominic A.: 20:19
Obviously, the story that came out was saying that there was $15 million worth of advertising value in the first few days but we estimate they’ve already gotten a lot more viewers in, I think, it’s been a week since then. Obviously, it’s later this has come out and I think it’s up to about 40 million, sorry, 70 million viewers and that’s brought up to 30 or 40 million in advertising value.
Dominic A.: 20:44
Using that, we actually look back at House of Cards. Obviously, House of Cards is finished now but over its six seasons and obviously, it’s on Netflix consistently and it keeps getting watched. We now estimate that there’s been over $412 million of advertising value for all the brands included and that includes $16 million for BlackBerry, which was …
Stacy Jones: 21:04
Look at that.
Dominic A.: 21:05
Stacy Jones: 21:06
Now, that was a perfect show, by the way. That was just aligned awesomely well …
Dominic A.: 21:08
Stacy Jones: 21:12
… Because BlackBerry was going after more of a B2B at the time. Kevin Spacey was awesome character to be associated with. Tides have turned on that a little bit as well but when you have a brand that’s actually associated in the right way, it sells and people comment on it and people purchase because of it and we hear about it all the time. I’m happy to see that you included the stats.
Dominic A.: 21:38
Yeah, I mean, BlackBerry is a great example. The people wouldn’t even think of that being product placement because it fits in so naturally. If anything, it would seem as an inaccuracy if they show them not using BlackBerry because obviously when it started, that was the official government phones.
Stacy Jones: 21:51
Back in 2007, BlackBerry was going ahead. We were going head-to-head with iPhone. We knew that Apple had their product placement division and we had BlackBerry. It wasn’t that we had to really work across each other, it wasn’t that we were even challenging each other in Hollywood at that time, because characters who were more consumer-based, use iPhone. Characters who are more business-based, use BlackBerry. It was when the brand started crossing over that things started changing a little bit more on that.
Dominic A.: 22:27
That’s an interesting idea also well about the competition is the fact there’s a product placement. Obviously, I’m sure there is competition sometimes between brands but because of what we’re saying earlier about it, it’s more about facilitating than paying someone. There’s plenty of room for any brand that’s going to do this properly.
Stacy Jones: 22:44
Dominic A.: 22:44
We do a lot of electronics. One of our client Dell, for example, is huge. They’re consistently seen in government offices, FBI offices, police stations.
Dominic A.: 22:53
Obviously, one of their main competitors, Apple, is much more seen at home, maybe used by teenagers and movies like Love, Simon or stuff like that but then other laptop brands like Panasonic, is not a huge brand but they have a very specific image of those rugged laptops that you always see the military use and they don’t get every single time but about most of the time when it’s the military, they will have a Panasonic laptop and we don’t work with them or anything but my guess is they don’t have ambitions of being the number one laptop but they just think that when the military is using it, it should be a Panasonic laptop.
Stacy Jones: 23:23
Yeah, we work with [inaudible 00:23:25] for a while doing the same thing.
Dominic A.: 23:27
Yes, they’re bigger too.
Stacy Jones: 23:28
Yeah, where we would go after only military or rugged usage. That’s what’s cool about product placement is you can look for very true-to-life core usage and then replicate that.
Dominic A.: 23:39
Yeah, because that means sometimes none come to mind right now but sometimes you’ll see placements where it just doesn’t feel right like you’ll be, for example, if this doesn’t happen but if you saw a teenager using a Panasonic laptop to Skype their girlfriend, you’d be like, “Wait, that doesn’t happen in real life.”
Stacy Jones: 23:55
Right. It’s true. Any other stats you want to share?
Dominic A.: 24:03
Not off the top of my head.
Stacy Jones: 24:05
That’s okay. You don’t have to.
Dominic A.: 24:07
Actually, yes. I have. This actually brings me to in terms of trends by some one stat that I polled. It was about, actually, this brings us on to the next section about maybe good things to do and what’s working at the moment in the industry.
Dominic A.: 24:22
The point that I was going to talk about, as we mentioned earlier, was about this diversification and about brands not focusing on one or two big movies and putting all their eggs in the same basket.
Dominic A.: 24:31
Basically, I looked at the top hundred brands that we’ve got in our report. On average between them, they were in 13 movies each and all the ones that were only in one movie, it tends to be specialized brands like maybe the boxing gloves that were [inaudible 00:24:45] or SoulCycle in Isn’t She Pretty, not brands that are trying to be everywhere.
Dominic A.: 24:50
All of these brands that are being successful are really diversifying. They’re appearing in many movies and on average, the number one movie of each brand was 62% of their total value they were getting, which is big but obviously what that’s saying is that on average you need to be in 13 movies to get that movie that’s your big fish that is going to bring you the majority of your value.
Dominic A.: 25:14
Obviously, as we know, you’re never sure about whether your brand is going to get a lot of visibility in the movie, whether a movie is going to do well and more importantly whether those two things are going to happen.
Dominic A.: 25:26
A lot of the times, our clients can be surprised. They’ll be like, “Oh boy, you were in this really huge movie.” It’s like, “Yeah, but you’re in the background for 10 seconds and what about this one?” It’s like, “Well, actually, you’ve got minutes and minutes of screen time. Your logo was visible and even though that many people saw it, the people who did see it saw it really well.”
Stacy Jones: 25:41
Well, I would like to hire you right now and you be the advocate because I tell clients all the time that they need to be a little less picky about what they’re choosing and look more so at the content as whether or not it is speaking to the right targeted demographic and whether it’s going to show the brand in a positive light because the magic of product placement, when you’re not paying these big fees, is that you should pretty much be in every single content opportunity that you can find that’s a fit to your brand and not say, “Yes to this and no to that,” because as Dominic mentioned earlier, this is a relationship game.
Stacy Jones: 26:17
This is all about building relationship with Hollywood. The person who’s on one film, is going to go on another film and then on to a TV show and then on to another TV show and what I didn’t even add in here is this is also not just a relationship business, it’s a family business.
Stacy Jones: 26:33
You’re working with people who have been in the unions where their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their children also and they share commentary. They teach everyone about who the brands are that actually are great to work with and they make sure that when brands give them love and who helped them in a time of need even if they’re working on kind of maybe a duddy film that seems duddy and quite frankly, it could come out and be a blockbuster that was unexpected. If you’re a brand that’s still willing to work with them because the content still fits and the opportunity is still right, then you’re going to win in the long-term.
Dominic A.: 27:10
Yeah, I actually have an example. I think a very good one of a brand that maybe did exactly this. It’s a Ram Trucks, part of Chrysler, which obviously are a very successful product placement brands. They have a whole team but when they spun off the Ram brands from Dodge, I think one of their first big projects was Monster Trucks. I don’t know if you had the misfortune of seeing this but it was just a movie where basically it was all monster trucks that had aliens living inside them.
Dominic A.: 27:37
I never actually watched the movie because it didn’t make it into our sample. That’s how badly it did but they obviously put a lot of money in the trailers. You can see that every single car is theirs. Even if they didn’t pay for it just in terms of giving the product, that must have cost them millions.
Dominic A.: 27:53
Obviously, the movie did not do well and the value for that would have been … I mean, they probably would have got a little bit of value because there was so much of them in it but the movie did really badly.
Dominic A.: 28:02
Whereas, for example, and the opposite of that was in this case going back to what you were saying earlier, maybe this helped for the production but in get out, there was some really strong placements by Lincoln and Microsoft and maybe because that was such an indie movie that a couple of hundred thousands would help them in the budget or stuff but either way Lincoln or Microsoft took a chance on a really small project and obviously that movie blew up and was one of the biggest things that year and they got millions of dollars’ worth of exposure.
Stacy Jones: 28:28
Yeah, the only thing I would call out about the Ram and monster trucks and when you said that they gave them and spent millions of dollars on inventory, well, here again is a super special magical thing about product placement, when you loan something to a production, unless they destroy it, you get it back and what Ford does, what Chrysler does, I think Ram is part of this, they actually have cars that are part of insurance fleets.
Stacy Jones: 28:52
They’ve been destroyed. Their owner have them. They had something happen to the car. It got destroyed in a hurricane or there was something that was an issue and it was a recall. These vehicles can actually be used in Hollywood for movies. They will a lot of times pull these vehicles in and give them two productions if they need to destroy vehicles too. That’s kind of a little side secret.
Dominic A.: 29:19
That’s interesting. I heard in the James Bond movies, for example, they weren’t crashing real Aston Martin so they give them replicas but I didn’t know about the insurance. That’s interesting.
Stacy Jones: 29:28
It’s not all of them. In the American models, the American brands do it better because they own their insurance fleets. They offer insurance that they have access to. Your BMWs, your Aston Martin, they’re not going to actually have that same capability that your Ford and Chryslers are going to have.
Dominic A.: 29:44
Stacy Jones: 29:47
What are some of the mistakes that you’ve seen people make besides not actually working in enough films or TV shows?
Dominic A.: 29:57
Well, do you mean broadly in product placement or specifically in terms of metrics?
Stacy Jones: 30:03
Both. I’ll wall that up to you. You can respond to me any other way. I bet our listeners will be interested.
Dominic A.: 30:11
In terms of placements, I would just say it’s the going too much in your face. For example, like Beats by Dre and Transformers, it’s literally if you put in product placement to Google images, usually what you get is all of the examples of people complaining about it.
Dominic A.: 30:27
I mean, in a way, if there’s no such thing as bad publicity, maybe they would argue that especially a brand like Beats by Dre, which is known for product placement but people do get tired about it because every other article about product placement out there is someone saying, “Fans are tired of this or that.” It makes good headlines.
Dominic A.: 30:43
I mean, in Stranger Things, even though Coca-Cola was the biggest brand and they got really good value, I’m sure they’re thrilled with it. There are still a bunch of articles which say, “Is this too much?”
Dominic A.: 30:53
That would be what are the other mistakes. Again, as you said putting all your eggs in one basket but it’s interesting because over the years, we’ve seen brands, which haven’t been doing too well or maybe they have been doing well but just in one movie.
Dominic A.: 31:05
A good example is AOC they do monitors. They were in The Martian, which was really good and then they sort of off the radar for a couple years but now they’ve come back in 2018 in full force and they’re in eight different movies including really big ones like Venom. They’ve obviously coming along in terms of their strategy.
Stacy Jones: 31:24
Yeah, what is called for a company like that and maybe their strategy is, maybe they’re paying for a guarantee exposure but usually a lot of your electronic clients aren’t paying. They’re making [Venturi 00:31:34] available and it’s something that Hollywood really needs because it costs a lot of money to dress a scene with monitors, with computers, with televisions, with phones.
Stacy Jones: 31:45
All of these types of brands who are kind of have the wherewithal to put together an inventory knowing that again, they’re going to send it out to a production, they’re going to use it. They’re going to have it on set and if it’s a film for about three months to four months. It’s going to be a TV show. It’s going to be a show that’s on Netflix that’s only 10 episodes or HBO or Showtime, that’s a short season.
Stacy Jones: 32:08
They’re also going to only have it for three to four months if it’s going to be a season long, 22-episode broadcasts, they’re going to have it for most of the year. They may even keep it and use it again for the following year. That’s again where a big win is for brands.
Dominic A.: 32:24
Absolutely. Then, I think in terms of mistakes but also good practices in terms of being realistic about what you expect in terms of the ROI and this is the problem as you’ve alluded to where people … They need to basically start with the assumption that they shouldn’t be paying for it. Maybe, eventually they do if the right deal comes along would use an agency like yours, build the connection, build the network because the problem is that if you’re paying 1 or $200,000 per placement, even if then one of them becomes worth 1 or $2 million, which is amazing, overall you’re not necessarily going to be happy because there’s this assumption because of many of the factors we talked about earlier if people think that every placement is worth millions.
Dominic A.: 33:02
Yeah, manage the expectations. This brings us on to the data is the fact is if a brand asks us to look at 10 movies or 10 TV shows or something, there are going to be some that are going to be disappointed and they just need to understand that before going in because obviously, there are one or two shows or movies that are doing really well is what they need to focus on.
Stacy Jones: 33:22
Well, even if you’re doing product placement where you’re not paying for each and every one, you can’t assume that just by providing loan of product to the production that you’re going to make it on the screen. I mean, the reality is it may and it may not, even if it has a starring role in one scene, we’ve had deals where we’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a product to be in a film and then the scene came out and it was either edited, so you couldn’t see it, it was just the wrong camera angles or it just didn’t work. The director is never going to say, “Oh, I want to keep that money and I’m going to change my creativity just to make it work for the brand.” That will never happen or you’ll end up having the entire scene cut.
Stacy Jones: 34:01
That’s why it’s also a numbers game where you want to work on as many different shows and feature films as possible that fit again your consumer demographic that you’re targeting so that you actually have the big wins on the opposite side.
Dominic A.: 34:16
Yeah, that’s right. Then the other thing would be also, again, going back to what we’ve already talked about, about making sure in the right context. I mean, I’m sure I know you guys do, I know my clients do, I speak to them. They don’t just agree to anything. They read the scripts. They study them. They make sure that people there are reliable, again, to make sure the things that you’re saying about not being cut, for example.
Dominic A.: 34:37
Obviously, a set dresser can never guarantee that but if there’s someone who you’ve got a good relationship, there’s much better chance that they’re going to help you out. I think an example, one of my clients told me once is obviously on the network channels, they have a lot of rules about the logos and stuff and obviously if the person doesn’t really care, they’ll just put black tape over it but if they’re a little more nice, maybe they’ll technically put one letter out so that it passes the rules but really everyone knows exactly what it is.
Stacy Jones: 35:03
Yeah and that’s called Greeking. That goes back to having to have a certain number of the words in a logo or in a name changed and altered so that network ad sales will say, “Yes, no problem. You can put that soda up there and our advertiser Coca-Cola if they happen to buy media is not going to be upset.” That’s why they do that and that’s where it comes in.
Stacy Jones: 35:26
You don’t see it on cable. You don’t see it on your OTT streaming video on-demand platform. You don’t see this in feature films. You only see it on broadcast networks where they will go in they’ll Greek it. We oftentimes now don’t even work with a lot of the shows on broadcast because we know that if it’s a first season series, they’re automatically going to not have the power to push back on work ad sales. It’s just like it’s a guarantee.
Stacy Jones: 35:53
It’s like first season, even if you have great electronics, you’re pretty much going to have all your logos gone but if you work with a TV show that’s broadcast network that’s been around for a few years, they know their chops, they have their relationships there and they want to work with a brand because it’s going to help offset some of their costs or make things easier, that production might have a little bit more ease of working.
Dominic A.: 36:15
I’m actually glad we talked about because I hadn’t planned to bring it up but this is actually one of my pet peeves is that people complain about product placement being too visible and ruining the experience but I personally feel that what does do that is when you see, for example, a car with a big blur instead of a badge or you know tape on someone’s jacket. That’s a lot more unnatural than actually having brands on screen.
Stacy Jones: 36:37
Yeah, there was on ABC earlier this season, my husband and I were watching a TV show I have never seen before is the Spy Caper. It’s not coming back actually and they walk out and they have a six-pack of beer and there’s literally paper wrapped around the beer cans. You cannot see what brand it is and they hand out the beers to everyone to drink. As they’re drinking it, with paper wrapped around them, they’re making comments or talking, you’re so distracted, you’re just focused on that can.
Stacy Jones: 37:09
They’ll have fake products out there too where you’ll have a can that says beer instead of Budweiser. If it still has the coloring of a Budweiser, if it still looks like that beer, it’s fine. You get it. You understand. You’re like, okay fine but if it’s just weird, again, paper wrapped around a beer can, it takes you so out of the scene that it hurts the actual creative process, I think.
Dominic A.: 37:32
Absolutely, yeah. Actually, that reminds me of … There’s this UK reality show called Love Island, which has just premiered in the US.
Stacy Jones: 37:42
Oh, that is mess of a show but yes, it’s here.
Dominic A.: 37:47
They have a very interesting product placement practices. I’ve kept an eye on the American one. I don’t think they really done any yet. The big thing in the UK is in the first episode when the contestants arrive, they come in and like shiny. I think in the first few seasons it was Jeeps and now it’s Land Rovers.
Dominic A.: 38:02
Those are clearly product placements but then they’re very careful about, for example, every bottle of wine, every soda they have is got the labels but because it’s reality TV and to me it’s pretty obvious what they’re doing, that bothers me less is when it’s like in something scripted but I think that’s part of the business plan. If it succeeds in the US for Love Island, you can be expecting to see a lot of product placement there whether it’s the cars, the drinks.
Dominic A.: 38:25
They have a whole … All the clothes in the UK are given by one brand of clothes store, which then they just do billboards everywhere saying, “We’re the clothing that’s on Love Island.” That’s a whole other interesting reality TV product placement.
Stacy Jones: 38:38
Reality TV is absolutely interesting especially with the fact that you actually usually have more leeway with reality than you do a scripted and it costs less money. The content costs less money. The brand deals cost less money and there’s less of this concern by the director and the producers that their art form is going to be hurt by the partnership with the brand. You can go a long way with reality series. What are some of the other things that you’ve noticed?
Dominic A.: 39:09
In terms of, I think, what I would look in terms of trends going forward that I’ve noticed they’re starting and i see very effective is partnerships. Long-term, whether it’s between … Sometimes in a studio, I’ve heard some clients say that a studio will come and just kind of offer their slate of movies and say, “What are you interested in?” but more specifically with franchises.
Dominic A.: 39:28
For example, one of the main ones would be Fiat Chrysler in Fast and Furious. You will not see Vin Diesel driving something that’s not a Dodge or a Plymouth or most importantly a Fiat Chrysler car.
Dominic A.: 39:40
In our rankings, it’s quite interesting because the years of Fast and Furious movie like Dodge is top 5 and they have a very strong program. They never drop out of the top 20 or 25 but there’s always a blip on the radar when they have those movies coming out.
Dominic A.: 39:54
Then, I think car brands are the biggest one like Audi in Marvel is obviously huge and it’s interesting how some have come and gone. Audi has been with Marvel since the first Ironman, whereas there been a lot of other brands that have sort of like I think it was Acura had a partnership for a while but then that sort of fizzled. I’m sure there’s some very interesting behind-the-scenes information there.
Stacy Jones: 40:14
I mean, they had Lexus in Black Panther.
Dominic A.: 40:16
Yes, yeah. That’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a one-off or if they keep going but that was great for Lexus. I think they made our top 10. That was 94% of their value that year came from there.
Dominic A.: 40:28
Lexus gets the headline but the fact is in that same chase that there was all the bad guys were driving Toyota SUV. They got a load of visibility as well and then BMW in Mission Impossible. They’ve consistently been all the newer ones and they got most of their one of the biggest friends every year but they got most of their value this year from the Mission Impossible: Fallout.
Dominic A.: 40:51
Then, but they’re not just and I’m not sure another one, which is non-car would be Nike in the Creed movies. They’re there pretty consistently but I also find interesting the partnerships with actors.
Dominic A.: 41:02
For example Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been wearing Under Armour since his very first movies. Obviously, he is now an official brand ambassador for them but the first few years he wasn’t … I’m sure they had sent some arrangement behind the scenes but yeah, he’s generated loads for them and whenever there’s a movie that’s appropriate, they can usually count on him to wear their stuff.
Dominic A.: 41:23
Kevin Hart has an endorsement deal with Nike, which I’m sure entails a lot of billboards and ads and stuff but it also means that he usually wears Nike in the movies that’s he’s in. Even something like watch endorsement deals.
Dominic A.: 41:35
Obviously, those when they’re signed especially like they’re quite an old-school thing about all the great actors have those but initially it’s mostly to get their photos in the magazines and stuff.
Dominic A.: 41:45
For example, Leonardo DiCaprio mostly wears Omega watches in the movies that he’s in and obviously they signed him. Daniel Craig as well to be in James Bond but a lot of those partnerships from outside can then have product placements repercussions.
Dominic A.: 42:00
It’s a pretty solid way and obviously series of franchises seems to be ruling over the box office at the moment. If there is one way to maybe have consistent reliable success, it is by being part of a franchise but this is where it’s important to get in on the ground level and then it’s probably as we said not cash exchanging hands but you need to make a financial commitment in terms of cross promotion or stuff like that.
Stacy Jones: 42:23
Yeah and I think that most of what you just mentioned in every instance with automotive, in every instance with watches that you’ve mentioned, they all involved having a media buy that was driving the force.
Stacy Jones: 42:36
There was dollars that were exchanged hand by BMW and by Acura and by Lexus and by Audi and all of that but it was really the fact that the movie, the title treatment, the content, the actors became part of advertisements for those brands that cemented it for the viewers.
Stacy Jones: 42:53
I mean, the product placement was just the first level and then they built legs on it by doing the cross promotion bringing into the retail and their television, print and digital advertising and then also extending it out through PR and publicity stunts, screenings and Film Festival premieres.
Stacy Jones: 43:11
There’s all these different ways to actually level up and build out these partnerships. They get really, really cool.
Dominic A.: 43:17
Yeah, I mean, the poster child for exactly what we’re talking about is obviously the James Bond franchise where they have, I think, it’s Ford, Omega, Tom Ford, Aston Martin those have all consistently been in the Daniel Craig ones. There are a lot of partners that come and go but they all build very well on so more than just a product placement. I know the jamesbondlifestyle.com is one of the biggest James Bond fan pages out there. He’s based here in London and he always gets invited to the events by the brands because they just want to be involved in the community.
Stacy Jones: 43:49
Yeah. It’s true because when you are working with these types of tent-pole feature films, you have this rabid fan-base and there is a crossover effect. I mean, it’s the stardust of the film going out and sprinkling it all over the place. Those fan bases especially now with social media are super powerful. It just keeps on spreading the word and bringing more attention and broadening awareness.
Dominic A.: 44:16
Yeah and hopefully we’re there to measure how successful they’ve been.
Stacy Jones: 44:20
Right, exactly. Do you see an increase of product placement right now or a decrease of product placement?
Dominic A.: 44:29
It fluctuates a lot. I’d say it’s about stable. I mean, I gave the example earlier of how using the top 50 movies in 2015, they generated $1.2 billion versus $600 million this year and obviously we dug into that because that’s like a huge difference and it’s just simply about the movies like in 2015 at the top five movies of the box-office, again, obviously the higher the movie, the higher the value. You have Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious Seven, who are obviously huge movies and full of product placement.
Dominic A.: 45:00
Then, the next year out of the top five, you had Secret Life of Pets, Jungle Book, and Finding Dory and Star Wars in the top five, which pretty much have virtually no product placement. That’s how one from one year to another, you can see a 60% drop. It fluctuates. It’s very … and but I guess, most importantly, it’s very hard to predict.
Dominic A.: 45:20
Sometimes, this is why again, we find our data is important because if … The entry level for evaluations and the sort of data we do is for someone to just say, “Okay, here’s what I’m in. Tell me how much it’s worth.” That’s a great first step. You can understand a lot of the things we’ve talked about, about some properties are going to be bigger than others, some of you be successful but if that’s all you’re looking at you can be like, “Well, why did I lose two thirds, one year on another,” and you could be like, “Well, just because there weren’t that many movies where they needed family vehicles or there weren’t that many movies that are taking place in offices or those movies just didn’t do well.”
Dominic A.: 45:55
That’s where our data we believe is so important because you can really just get this macro picture of what’s going on, what are the top brands, what are the top types of products, what are the products that are coming in and out?
Dominic A.: 46:06
Actually, a big new trend is obviously websites and apps. A few years ago, it was very rare but now you see Google, you see Facebook. Instagram is one of the most mentioned brands in movies in the last couple of years and obviously that’s huge because that didn’t exist a few years ago.
Stacy Jones: 46:22
With those apps, it’s interesting. When you start … When those apps first come out, they’re very hungry to actually pay for product placement and to get out there and knock on doors but then once they hit that bubble and they go over it, they’re able to get a lot of this for free because it’s just part of our common everyday vernacular.
Dominic A.: 46:39
Stacy Jones: 46:40
Most of the apps that you see like Bumble is one of the clients I’ve worked with over the years, to do different partnerships from Ellen, to Book Club, to Jane the Virgin and Riverdale. Those are not going to be types of exposures that you see that are just they magically happen and they appear.
Stacy Jones: 46:57
I mean, they’re thought out because it’s an app. It’s not something that is saving the production money. It’s not an electronic. It’s not an automotive. It’s not something that’s clothing that’s just easy to put on someone. It’s something that really has to be orchestrated into the script and when you do see those brands that are really, you can tell that there was time taken to paint them in and to make them as organic as possible and real and have call-outs and messaging, that’s where you’re seeing the fee-based deals.
Dominic A.: 47:25
Yeah. I mean, I’m sure those happen a lot but I think, as you mentioned, these apps are now part of our lives and they need … I’m sure Google is aware or is part of it when they’re appearing on screen but the fact is people are searching on computers, people are using dating apps all the time and again going back to my point about with the Greeking, it’s always a bit strange when you see someone using a search engine that doesn’t exist or a dating app that doesn’t exist. It rings a lot true to see someone who Bumble or Tinder or looking up a video on YouTube.
Stacy Jones: 47:54
Productions prefer to work with brands who actually are at kind of at that peak and who are known versus DuckDuckGo, which is a competitor, I think, to Google. I mean, who knows, right? What is DuckDuckGo?
Stacy Jones: 48:07
To see DuckDuckGo in something, you’re going to know that it’s … Okay, that brand was from an article I was reading, here’s a little plug for them. I don’t even know who they are but I was reading something about it on LinkedIn, they mask you so that it won’t allow you to search. You can’t see your history on the search bar. That would work really well like Stranger Things with the character who is like secret, secret. Everyone’s out there to get me. That’s the type of search engine platform he would use. He wouldn’t use a Google.
Stacy Jones: 48:38
Those are little things that producers look at sometimes where you can have some big wins for a brand even without paying if the brand actually compliments a character and makes sense.
Dominic A.: 48:48
Yeah, I think what were you saying about when it doesn’t fit sometimes, a lot of the times they can be fake but I think it was Get Out, there were memes and everything that came out because they were using Bing in it and people were just making fun of it because, “Oh, we found the one person who uses Bing.”
Stacy Jones: 49:04
Everyone in the film is Bing, Bing, Bing. Yes.
Dominic A.: 49:08
That brings to mind just an interesting fact that I found out a couple years ago. He worked with some students and teachers at Laurentian University to do … Actually, no. I’m sorry. This is someone else. We had a lot of students who contact us because they read our data and they want to either quote us or they want to use a bit of it and we always try to help them out. I think, he was a PhD or a Master’s thesis and he’d got someone to watch a few clips and see what they record and everything and the most fascinating thing I got from that whole interaction is that I think it was even House of Cards he was showing, is that sometimes people, they notice the product and they don’t notice the brand and they assume it’s a brand but it wasn’t.
Dominic A.: 49:47
Someone will see a phone and maybe it’s an unknown brand and they’ll say, “What brand did you see?” I was like, “I saw an Apple iPhone,” or they’ll see a can, it could be Dr. Pepper and they say, “Oh, I think it was Coca-Cola,” and that to me the fact that basically people are seeing stuff that isn’t there is interesting but it’s the result of obviously the fact that they’ve seen Coca-Cola and iPhones in people’s hands so often that their brain just sort of assumes it.
Stacy Jones: 50:10
Well, let’s just say Game of Thrones and Starbucks.
Dominic A.: 50:14
Stacy Jones: 50:16
[crosstalk 00:50:16] example of what you’re talking about.
Dominic A.: 50:17
Yeah, exactly. Every time people would say, “Oh, the Starbucks cup.” I was like, “It wasn’t a Starbucks cup but okay.”
Stacy Jones: 50:23
[inaudible 00:50:23] Belfast called paper cup [inaudible 00:50:29] or mom and pop. I could keep on talking to you for hours but we have to wrap it up.
Dominic A.: 50:36
Stacy Jones: 50:36
Are there [crosstalk 00:50:37]? Can you share with our listeners a little bit about how they can find you and where they can go?
Dominic A.: 50:45
Absolutely, our website concavebt.com. You can come there to see our insight. The most recently our Stranger Things analysis, our look at the top 100 brands. We look at the top 10 product placements every year and you can get in touch with us if you want to talk about our services or our data at [email protected] and otherwise you can see a lot of our content on Twitter @concavebrandtracking or YouTube @compareconcavebrandtracking and Pinterest as well.
Dominic A.: 51:14
Lots of ways to get in touch and we’re always happy to just to have a chat, share some data. We get people to come to us for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, they’re just thinking of starting to do product placement and they want to have a chat about what it looks like and then work with us ideally but yeah, so get in touch. I’m more than happy to chat.
Dominic A.: 51:33
As we’ve mentioned, because we have all this data for years and years, chances are if you’re in movies, we have loads of data on you already.
Stacy Jones: 51:40
That’s awesome. Then, Dominic, we all have of your contact information in the show notes on our podcast page. Everyone, if you’re not writing frantically right now, you can visit there. Then, are there any last words or parting advice or comments that you’d like to make?
Dominic A.: 51:58
I mean, obviously, it’s very self-serving but at the end of the day, doing product placement without measuring in some way because it doesn’t … We didn’t actually even get into this but again, we could have talked for hours but the fact is the product placement usually doesn’t lead directly to sales. It’s leading to increase in awareness and stuff and you need to measure. You need the KPIs. You need to know your ROI most importantly because someone in the company is going to be above you who doesn’t understand product placement the way you do or we do and they’re going to want to know how are we are. Are we the number one brand in our category? [inaudible 00:52:28] our ROI.
Dominic A.: 52:29
Whether you’re using us or I’d say if a brand was quite small and they’re just doing a couple properties, they can do it themselves or using the agency. You need to be able to measure what you’re doing somehow to know whether what you’re doing is going well.
Stacy Jones: 52:42
That’s where third-party analytics come in and are very powerful for many companies because they want to make sure that they just have that checkbox and that they are truly getting a high return and what’s wonderful about product placement is there’s always a high return.
Dominic A.: 52:57
Stacy Jones: 52:58
Well, Dominic, thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed having you. I will have you on again so we can talk even more.
Dominic A.: 53:04
Thanks Stacy. I look forward to it.
Stacy Jones: 53:06
I hope that you have a … Dominic’s in the UK. I’m in California. Time difference. It’s his evening time right now. I hope he has a wonderful evening. Thank you.
Dominic A.: 53:15
Stacy Jones: 53:17
To all of our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I look forward to chatting with you next week.
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