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‘Skyfall’ Takes Product Placement to Next Level with Heineken

Guest Blog: Heineken is hoping beer drinkers will be stirred by their "Skyfall" campaign, but Sony marketers may be the biggest winners

The largest barrier for any major motion picture is the upfront marketing and advertising costs. No shit. The issue continues to be the exponential growth in this area of the entertainment business. Jesus Christ, one of these again. Let me make my point.

I recently went to see "Seven Psychopaths" — an awful movie, I don’t recommend
unless you’re stoned — and came across a quick clip about the much more promising "Skyfall," the upcoming Bond movie starring Daniel Craig. He is involved in a new marketing campaign with Heineken to help promote the movie.

Product placement is nothing new. Companies always try — and do — buy influence with the hopes of increased sales from celebrity endorsements or the quick glance of their brand in a blockbuster hit. But this is the first I am hearing of a company carrying out a portion of the advertising campaign.

That’s right. Heineken is not only dishing out $75 million, they are also using their valuable resources to create promotional commercials for "Skyfall." They must believe the benefit they receive far exceeds the cost of merely handing over the cash and letting their beer bottle be seen behind a bar, or wherever, in the upcoming action/ drama film.

Also read: 'Skyfall' Ad: James Bond Shills for Heineken (Video)

What this does is free up the creative minds of studio marketers to focus on other tasks (or, reigning in some costs). They can devote more time to print advertising, video game promotion, social media, condom labels, or whatever else they can think of. I believe this is a viable alternative solution to simply hacking advertising costs — especially for traditional studio films.

The bottom line is that they need to create brand recognition for a film or franchise in a short amount of time. And the quickest way to do so is still through costly television advertising, even in the social media-dominated world we live in. So why not split the workload with those willing to help market the film and shape their own product brand?

One of the difficulties will be convincing sponsors the millions they spend will be a worthwhile investment. With James Bond it’s easy: marketing executives can simply analyze the before and after returns for other companies. Just look what the franchise did for Aston Martin.

Nevertheless, spending millions to promote a product on the back of a "John Carter" is the ultimate fear. But this is no different than any other major business decision. Studio executives just need to show that this expenditure is only better than the next best option.

I am not sure of the return to marketing for major motion pictures, but I do know there is much research out there indicating the promotional price-tag isn't justified in regard to substantial increased ticket revenue. So let the major corporations’ pick up the tab. Obviously this isn't as easy as it sounds, but I think the big picture still holds true for alternative marketing options. Let others do the work for you.

Frank Conlon is a recent graduate of the University of Rochester and currently works for Citigroup as an associate. His areas of expertise include economics and marketing, focusing on alternative strategies in the entertainment business. For a time he worked with Michael Rizzo in the Department of Economics as an assistant advising students on lecture material. He currently
lives in New York and writes for Assistant Den at frankconlon.blogspot.com.