Last month, a beautiful film named Dolphin Tale hit the theatres. Based on a true story, it’s a ‘tale’ about a dolphin without a ‘tail’. It’s the story about a young boy’s efforts to convince scientists to create a prosthetic tail for this dolphin named Winter , whose tail had got amputated. In doing so, he not just changes the life of the dolphin but also of the people around him. It’s a story of grit and determination. It made the audiences cry and the producers fly high – in North America, the movie grossed $14 million from Friday to Sunday. It opened at #3 but rose to the #1 spot in the second week, something not very common.
A GOOD STORY HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE ALL BOX OFFICE RULES!
Not just is Warner Bros very happy with the performance of the film, but so is ‘Clearwater Marine Aquarium’. This is the water-park in Florida where the movie was filmed, and Clearwater cannot thank its stars enough. Even before the movie opened, visitors to the water park increased tremendously. The impact of the movie has been so great that the aquarium is now spending $12 million in expansion including a new “Dolphin Tale” exhibit. The aquarium now also has a new website and calls itself “The home of Winter”.
The dolphin’s tale of survival has worked wonders for a lot of people and a lot of brands too, apart from the Clearwater aquarium.
It shows the little boy doing all his searches, not on Google but on Gigablast which calls itself the ‘leading clean-energy search engine’ as it uses wind energy to provide 90% of the power required to run its servers. The movie also features Dell laptops and a whole lot of other brands. Both marketers and viewers are more than familiar with this form of marketing. The trick is to do it intelligently so that it creates an impact and does not look tacky. There is hardly any big film released today without brands being an integral part of them. This medium is after all the most powerful of all and can do wonders for a brand.
THE POWER OF FILMS
Some products that have benefitted the most out of in-film branding have not just been ‘products’ but rather countries. Just as Clearwater Aquarium has benefitted from the movie Dolphin Tale, so have a whole lot of other places. After Lost in Translation was released, everyone wanted to go to Tokyo. Almost all of Yash Chopra’s films have worked as powerful advertisements for Switzerland. Hrithik’s debut film Kaho Na Pyar Hai was responsible for doubling the Indian tourism to New Zealand. The latest to hit the Indian box office, Zindagi Na Milege Dobara, will do wonders for Spain.
If there is one city that has been featured innumerable times in films , then it is New York. Every year, hundreds of films feature New York and the city understands the impact this has on its tourism. So the Mayor’s Office in New York offers free filming permits, police assistance and even gives you location advice if you want to shoot a film there. After all, product placement of the city will help both the parties – for if a film is able to capture the essence of a city on camera, then it becomes the most powerful promotional tool for the city.
James Bond films have been most famous for in-film branding. When the Aston Martin was featured in the Bond film Goldfinger, it was such a big hit that the company put it on its brochure. Product placement specialist Karen Sortito ensured that BMW’s new model Z3 shone as bright as James Bond in the film Golden Eye. In fact, the in film placement was so successful that not just did the sales of the BMW, Z4 skyrocket after the movie’s release, but Karen found a long line of brands waiting at her doorstep to help them get visibility. For the next Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, she could well rope in $100 million worth of tie-ups with brands like Omega, L’Oreal, Avis etc.
Your product might be good but it needs the right ‘image’ to stand out in the marketplace. It has to have a distinct personality which its buyers can associate with. In film branding helps it do just that.
If there is one company that understands the power of in-film branding, it’s Apple. Think of any hit movie and chances are you will find an Apple product. Be it blockbusters like Ironman, The Social Network, Tron, The Twilight Saga, 17 Again, Transformers, Cars 2 , Green Lantern, or Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Apple has been the constant star.
When it comes to product placement dominance, this brand leads. For more than three years in a row, Apple has been the most visible brand in films. This year, it featured in 13 films. The next visible brand is Chevrolet that featured in 9 movies. In 2009, it topped the charts by featuring in 19 movies; then, again in 2010, it ranked one, for it was seen in 10 films. The next in line on visibility in movies is Nike. It appeared in 8 films. There is no formula yet to calculate ROI but it’s clear that it pays to be in the limelight! The wine company ‘Clos Du Val’ ensured that it made an appearance in 100 films by simply sending the directors of the movies free cases of its wine. The winery reported an increase of 50 percent in its sales after this!
THE IMAGE GAME
Movies do influence our buying decisions. As Andy Warhol put it beautifully years ago, “It’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented. They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it.”
Once a brand is featured in a movie, it changes its image totally. The brand develops a personality of its own based on which star uses it in the movie, where it’s used and how it’s used. Think about it – if Pepsi succeeds in convincing Spiderman to drink Pepsi in the movie, I am sure it would defeat Coke, for every child would want it, to become like Spiderman. It’s all about personality. Be it politics or business, the one with the ‘coolest’ personality always outshines others. Movies develop an aura around a brand and give it a unique personality which helps it differentiate itself from competitors and win market share. Years ago, Morgan Spurlock made a documentary on McDonald’s, titled Supersize Me. In this docu, Morgan ate only at Mc-Donald’s for a month and showed how he gained weight and developed a whole lot of health problems, proving how dangerous fast food is. The film got everyone thinking, including McDonald’s which now has introduced healthier options in its menu. That’s the power of a strong image and nothing can get stronger than the images one sees on that huge screen in the movie hall. It creates the strongest of impressions. To prove how strong ‘images’ are, Spurlock made a documentary again which got everyone talking, yet again. The documentary was titled “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” He shows the effect of product placement and advertorial tie-ups at the movies. In fact, the title of his film itself proves how strong an impact a movie can create. The full name of his documentary is “POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold” and the pomegranate juice manufacturer Pom Wonderful paid him $1 million for the title. Morgan made his point even before one saw the first scene of the film. He says after seeing his documentary the public would change their whole perceptions about the movies.
Yes, the key word is perception. That’s exactly what movies build and once your brand is featured in a blockbuster, it will change the way the audience looks at your brand.
So if you really want your brand to become a star, you need to head for the movies, for that’s the place where stars are made.