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29 Sep / A New Age of Product Placement

AvionWhether it’s a guest star drinking a Coca Cola, or your favorite character wearing a Nike t-shirt and driving a new Chevrolet Camaro, product placement has been a long-standing tradition in both TV shows and movies. Often this form of embedded marketing can be distracting to viewers and take away from the plot of the film or show. But, what happens when a product is actually written into the storyline?

If you watched Entourage this season, you are aware of the prominent role that the tequila company, Avion, played in the development of the characters and plot. In this HBO show, which is centered on the lives of a Hollywood superstar and his three best friends, the idea of liquor playing a big part in their lives is not far fetched! However, Avion tequila is not just something the characters drank, it made an impact on every single one of their lives.

The idea of integrating a commercial product into a script or “brand integration” is not something we haven’t seen before. Last April, just days before Apple’s iPad was released, Modern Family, ABC’s new hit “mockumentary,” spent almost an entire thirty-minute episode featuring the product. From Claire, the mom, attempting to wait in line for hours to get her hands on one for her husband, to Phil, the father, who received the iPad as a much anticipated birthday present and proceeded to blow out the “candles” in a birthday cake application, a majority of this episode focused on the product.

An item of note in both cases is that allegedly neither company paid for their product to be advertised on the shows. Entourage creator, Doug Ellin, and co-founder of Avion, Kenny Ditcher, are actually lifelong friends. Ellin agreed to highlight the tequila on Entourage as long as he had complete creative control as to how it was featured. For a new product, like Avion, it’s hard to imagine a better form of advertising! In terms of Apple and ABC, both parties deny that any money was exchanged. The iPad, which was met with much anticipation before its actual launch, could almost immediately after the show, be viewed in a real life setting, while Avion became available in New York City and flew off the shelves of liquor stores and was also one of the more popular items at bars as soon as people realized it was indeed a real product.

Product placement isn’t going anywhere, but creators, writers, and directors are definitely becoming more creative when it comes to integrating products into their movies or TV shows. We can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next!

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