Over the past two decades, Propaganda GEM has solidified its status as a leader in the world of showbiz product placement. Moving forward, it must ensure that it doesn’t become a victim of its own success.“Consumers are more aware of product placement than ever before,” says Propaganda partner and managing director Daphne Briggs. “It is painfully obvious when a product (is) forced into the action. “Unfortunately, this branding overkill is not limited to film. The past TV season provided a number of poor examples of brand integrations.” In fact, TV is the medium most at risk of product-placement overload. Gone are the days of straight product loan. Instead, media buys and hefty integration fees are common, with networks closely monitoring sets to safeguard against non-paying brands receiving logo exposure. But with networks increasingly willing to take coin from corporate clients looking for airtime, the results can feel all too forced. “One can always tell when a company lacks entertainment marketing agency representation,” adds Briggs, who has woven such clients as Rolls Royce and Carlsberg into such skeins as “In Treatment” and “Desperate Housewives.” “A company with a decent agency would never allow their client to just be forced into the action. … There needs to be a believable reason as to why a product or brand appears.” And though Propaganda GEM is praised by studios and creatives for finding innovative ways to use products to punctuate the action without turning off the viewer, the company’s future success hinges on staying ahead of today’s audiences, who are becoming increasing adept at sniffing out an ad dressed as a prop. Likewise, Propaganda co-founder Anders Granath warns that product-placement gurus must not kill the goose that laid the golden egg. “The field of entertainment marketing will offer very interesting opportunities in the future, on the condition that both (the studio’s) and the brand’s unique attributes and know-how are commonly safeguarded and smartly exploited,” he says.
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