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Interview: Alison E. McManus (CEO Branded Marketing Group)

Branded Entertainment Online had the unique opportunity to talk to Alison E. McManus, the CEO of Branded Marketing Group from New York. International Blockbusters like James Bond: Casino Royale, Wall Street 2 and the Transformers movies are well known for their successful and well integrated Product Placements thanks to Alison. Enjoy!

Hello Alison, please introduce yourself and Branded Marketing Group.

Branded Marketing Group is a full-service global branded entertainment and strategic integration agency providing unique and innovative marketing solutions. We focus on building custom entertainment strategies that are executable in the global market. We specialize in identifying opportunities for brands seeking integration and associations with entertainment properties of all kind such as film, television, gaming and events, as well a developing original branded content. We also provide full-scale marketing and promotional activations across all mediums. We build cross-platform multi-dimensional entertainment marketing strategies that create brand differentiation and provide a competitive advantage.

Our goal is to identify organic opportunities that both satisfy the brand brief and also meet product needs. We believe that product placement and content integration provide a significant value and return on investment to our clients and our goal is to provide exceptional personalized client services and custom-tailored marketing solutions. With almost 10 years of industry experience we have the knowledge, expertise, and contacts in the entertainment industry to ensure success.

Heineken's placement in Wall Street 2 was executed by Branded Marketing Group

Where do you see the benefit of Product Placement for brands?

Product placement is an extremely influential and effective form of marketing with a diminishing cost of return that can really reach a global audience. Entertainment resonates with everyone globally across all ages and demographics. It is a unifying medium that touches uniquely that human spirit. As a result it has the ability to create a huge impact with a large audience on a very different level than traditional marketing and advertising. However, it is most successful if the placement and integration is organic. Consumers actually expect to see characters in entertainment interacting with real brands but only in the appropriate setting. No one believes in a character driving a no-name car or drinking or eating a "generic" food. Consumers expect to see brands in entertainment content and product placement allows filmmakers to develop, define and lend credibility to their characters.

Consumers actually expect to see characters in entertainment interacting with real brands (...)

The global advertising market has become over-saturated and product placement can provide a great alternative to brands that are looking to reach consumers in a new and innovative way. Product placement and content integration also allows brands to create promotional consumer marketing campaigns that leverage the placement and that capitalize on the media spend of the studio and other brand partners. This means that the money that the brand is spending in the market place gets highly leveraged because there are other partners promoting the same property in the market place so the brand gets more "bang for the buck." A co-branded marketing campaign creates differentiation in a crowded market place and can drive consumers to associate emotionally with the brand. There is a level of implied endorsement and an association with the right entertainment property can really increase sales and brand awareness.

Content integration also lives in perpetuity and is evergreen. Once imbedded the brand will be forever be seen that entertainment property. This means that viewer impressions and media value grow over time as the entertainment property continues to reach new audiences.

What is your all-time favorite product placement?

Some classic product placements that people always refer to are Reese's Pieces in E.T., FedEx in Cast Away with Tom Hanks, White Castle in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle or Spinach in Popeye. Even though these are all great placements and shouldn't be discounted, I personally think that the best product placements are brand integrations that are really critical to the storyline, help to really define the movie and the character or create such a buzz and global awareness that it significantly elevates the brand on a grand proportion. Some examples of this would be the Bombardier Spyder 3-wheeled motorcycle placement in the television show C.S.I. Miami where the discovery of the unique fact that there are two wheels upfront and one in the back serve as a critical clue to solving the crime.

I personally think that the best product placements are brand integrations that are really critical to the storyline (...)

The placement of the brand new BMW Z3 prototype in the Bond movie GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan combined with BMW's promotional marketing campaign created such a buzz that most of the first year's production was immediately pre-sold and BMW ended up with a large waiting list of consumers vying for the car which was not even available to the public until the following year. The same thing happened with GM and its Chevrolet Camaro in the first Transformers movie when the car was placed in the movie but was not available for purchase by consumers – by the time the car was placed in the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sales had skyrocketed. Wonder Bread's placement in Talladega Nights even amongst other logos created a great revival for the brand and it's parent company. Manolo Blahnik in Sex and the City basically helped put the brand on the consumer map and turn the designer into an international icon. And I personally really like Aston Martin in Casino Royale because even though you expect to see the brand associated with James Bond movies it's the fact that in this one the car gets completely totaled yet it is still viewed as cool, sleek and sexy and makes you want to run to the dealership.

What do you think about the Product Placements in Skyfall and all the hype around it?

I was frankly surprised by all of the hype and chatter well in advance of the release of the film but after having seen it, I think that all of the placements are believable and well-done. The Bond Franchise is arguably one of the most recognized entities in the world and with every new Bond movie there are a lot of brands vying for placement and exposure. This year is the 50th anniversary of 007. Throughout the history of the franchise, James Bond has associated with certain brands and products that will always be iconic and featured in the film. The directors and producers have added additional brands over the years but only at great discretion. Any new brand partners would have to fit with James Bond's persona and the look and feel of the franchise. As for the hype on SKYFALL hopefully it will benefit the product placement industry in general.

Thank you very much!

Branded Marketing Group

Alison E. McManus (CEO Branded Marketing Group)

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