October 22, 2021

TDmonthly Magazine

March 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 3

Hollywood ToyBoy: Sell Your Toys in Movies

HD Gives Product Placement New Definition

By Mark Zaslove
March 2008

“Interactive HD movies are where the sales of everything are going.”
In the middle of the writers’ strike, we’re eating old scripts, barricading ourselves against the zombie hordes outside. Fortunately, my Internet is going so I can signal for help: “Send production software! Send the latest High Definition (HD) movies!”

I’m leaving the country!

“Interactive HD movies are where the sales of everything are going in five years,” lectured a media-mogul-turned-philanthropist I was talking to onboard his Gulfstream V on the way to St. Barts.


“You like the sweater the star is wearing? Click-and-buy. How about that blender the crazed slasher is using to chop up his victims? Click-and-buy. You like the car being blown up in the action sequence by a bazooka? Click-and-buy. Car or bazooka. Merchandising and viewing experience will become one.”

Doesn’t matter who wins the HD wars — Blu-Ray, HD-DVD or downloads — click-and-buy is the wave of the future. “I tried it out myself on a small test market in, of all places, Boise, Idaho,” a cute but "worth-a-hundred-times-more-than-me" fellow passenger blurted out after her third mimosa. “I own a little perfume company,” she twittered.

I coughed politely — that “little perfume company” was worth over a half-billion dollars. “The lead actress put on a dab of my new toilet water ... it smells like lavender cherries ... and suddenly, the orders in the town skyrocketed. Thirty-seven percent of the women viewing bought. Their main reason? ‘It was easy,’ they said.”


Product placement has always been useful for selling, but unless the brand name was as obvious as a bad plot point, how was someone to know what to buy? And worse, how were they to remember it after the movie was over?

“They’re already doing it in small ways with music,” pointed out a clean-and-sober rock star flying with us. “‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘The OC,’ even the ‘Gilmore Girls’ launched a lot of online sales. And they only listed the songs in the credits at the end, and linked them to iTunes. Imagine if you just clicked and iTunes downloaded it for you automatically.”

So what’s a toymaker to do? In the old days of product placement, getting an art director or props' person to position your latest in a way that drove sales, required marketing muscle or blind luck. Today interactive HD is in its infancy. It’s being tested and experimented with. Perfect time to volunteer.


That’s right: Pick up a Hollywood trade mag and look at the upcoming schedule of movies to be shot. Then start calling, looking for anyone who is going to go High-Def.

Free toys for any of the kids’ movies? Sure thing! Have them link to your website for sales (or Amazon if you really want to cut down on infrastructure) when they cut the HD version, and voila! You’re on the road to click-and-buy, and they do all the dirty work.

Now as the sun beats down and I work on my tan, I’m beginning to hope the writers' strike goes on a little longer. At least until I can get another umbrella drink.

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