Product placement enjoys mixed fortunes within the film community. On one hand it is a staple of Hollywood movies, featuring every time a character opens a fridge or flicks the ignition on his car. But on the other hand it has been seen as a tool which deepens the gulf between studio produced movies and the independent film industry.
The reality is not quite so simple. The fact remains that products sell better if they’re seen in the hands of Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock, than they do in the hands of some unknown actor from a small town in New Mexico. But a new website is countering the idea that independent films can’t use product placement, either to score freebies or to make a little bit of extra cash for their production.
ProductPlaceMe.com was launched by Rex Riepe, a talented web developer who previously founded HootCourse.com, this month after a long schedule of preparation. The thinking behind that site was that, as Riepe puts it, ‘a lot of product placement is painful to watch, and it doesn’t need to be.’
Product placement is, it would seem, an inevitable part of the film industry. If a script requires a character to drink a can of soda, why not get money from Pepsi in order to do that? ProductPlaceMe is trying to take that idea and apply it to independent films that would otherwise struggle to get placement deals. But Mr.Riepe insists that no artistic integrity is being compromised, and to ensure this the website requires users to submit the script before the product placement can begin, rather than the other way round.
‘Our mission is to make product placement better.’ Says Mr.Riepe, ‘We do that with a “scripts first” policy. By letting filmmakers (or other content producers, i.e. video games or TV shows) set the initial terms of the deals, we avoid the biggest product placement problem: Scripts being written around products.’
The whole site revolves around the idea of integration; major corporations linking up with independent films, and small businesses linking up with Hollywood blockbusters. ‘Right now, it’s nearly impossible for the little guys to get into it.’ Mr.Riepe states, ‘We want to make it possible, for example, for an independent brewer to place his product into an independent film. We also want to make it easier for everyone to work together, for example an independent brewer placing his product into a major studio film or a major beer placing in an independent film.’
One thing’s for sure, it can’t hurt to try out this service. At best you can make some hard cash or score some free energy drinks. At worst you waste five minutes signing up. It seems that with ProductPlaceMe.com the stigma of selling ads in independent movies might just be lifted.