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Channel Surfing

Eager to see your product or service on TV? Frank Zazza, the father of product placement, has these tips:
  1. Consider hiring an agency. The Entertainment Resources & Marketing Association maintains a searchable database of agencies broken down by specialty at "Seek out agencies who've been around and established themselves in traditional product placement and major branded efforts," Zazza advises. Fees can be reasonable, and fee-for-placement and retainer arrangements are both common. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Your costs can go as low as $1,000 a placement or $5,000 for three placements.
  2. Target your efforts. Ask yourself where your company's product or service would best fit in. If you have a specialized product that is likely to be needed by a certain kind of show, you'll be welcome. That doesn't mean mundane widget companies should despair. If you have good retail distribution, for example, you can use that as leverage, bartering point-of-purchase exposure --"As Seen on the Discovery Channel"--for airtime.
  3. Dream up a plot point. Emphasizing a cool feature that a writer might be able to work into a script can bolster your efforts.
  4. Be ready to go on short notice. When the call comes, you need to "bust your hump to make sure product is there when the camera starts rolling," says Zazza. This is where working with an agency helps, because producers know that agencies have obtained the necessary permissions to clear products for immediate on-set needs.
  5. Work the niches. It's great to be on one of the major networks, but with a thousand channels, there are a thousand opportunities for exposure. Is your product right for the Golf Channel? The Food Network? HGTV?
Last updated: Feb 24, 2008


Adam Bluestein is a frequent contributor to Inc., writing about health care, innovation, and new technology. He lives with his wife and two children in Burlington, Vermont.

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