The Carol Frey Theory Of Product Placement
When we last left Carol, she offered a treatise on cold weather marketing and how to maximize blizzards and other weather events.
Sadly, the fame of being featured on my blog was a little too heady for this suburban Minneapolis mom and soon she was hitting happy hours at Chilis and trying to capitalize and get free appetizers out of her on-line stardom.
Fortunately with the love of her family and friends to support her, Carol went off for 28 days of quiet reflection at Serenity Pines where she focused on challenges in her life.
She’s back and got out/was released just in time for the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. You truly need to be in this corner of the upper Midwest to fully understand how large of a deal that it is. It’s literally a part of the culture of this state. It’s like The World Cup in Brazil, Friday night football in Texas, or cheap lap dances in Huntsville.
So I’m watching a game, and seated directly behind the guy who the sportscasters would go to between periods for commentary and coach interviews, were Mr. and Mrs. Carol. During the course of the game she got a mess ‘o screen time. I was just pissed that I hadn’t known or I would have gotten them in Cities 97 sweatshirts.
And we all know the pure visceral joy of getting a logo on TV. It’s that moment that washes away the stink of all the stupidity and crap in our every day work lives. It’s the payoff for everything we do. Right after we launched Wild in San Francisco, we did a Stop The Violence event with Jo Jo that got us a front page shot in the Chronicle, above the fold. For a brief moment, United Broadcasting and all of their bullshit was in the background: we’d made the paper.
So how can you increase the odds of getting this kind of visibility? Look for the camera angles.
Football? What is the camera angle at a football game? The end zone. I was at CBS in Denver and went to a Monday Night Football game. I’d folded up banners and shoved them in the back of my jacket and asked the GM if he could take out $100 from an ATM. I then went down to each end zone and bought beers for people and gave them banners and asked if they’d hold them up during field goals and extra points.
So I’m sitting with Don and Keith up in the seats and every time there was any kind of kick, their phones would explode with CBS people around the country asking “How in the name of fuck are you doing this?”
And the answer? Beer.
There are times and places where you know you are going to be swarmed with TV crews. Like the Governor’s mansion in Austin where the future President continued the affairs of his state while waiting out the process Supreme Court deciding dimpled chad votes. Liz Leos, with The Beat in Austin, put her vehicles in heavy rotation so-to-speak: she had them continually circling the block so in all the reporters coverage from a tent city cross the street, every 30 seconds seemingly a station van drove past.
Conversely during the Presidential campaign of 2012, when Florida was a hot lot of electorates up for grabs and every candidate was crashing the state, one of the stations in Jacksonville got two promo people with a GIANT banner on poles, and with Blue Tooth, whenever there was a live shot of a rally, they’d coach them on where to move the sign. “To the left. More. The TV van is in the way…back a little…THERE.”
What will always draw a buttload™ of TV crews? A gas station event where you pump free or exceptionally discounted gas for a few hundred cars. KDWB in Minneapolis effectively shut down South St. Paul with one, and TV choppers were circling like an LA cop chase.
Knowing how much they love to give us credit, what are the two camera shots in these things? The line of cars and the close up of the hand pumping the gas.
And if you’re reasonably sure that you’re going to get TV choppers, put your big ass concert banner on the roof of the gas station.
It wasn’t necessarily a press opp but when I arrived in Charlotte in the Summer of 1989, one of my first sales calls was to the “big mall” in town to meet with their Marketing Director to discuss Back To School. She left me and the AE waiting at the food court, which was on the second level and over-looked an indoor ice rink. Maybe it was just Southerners fascination with frozen water but seemingly everyone at some point or another, as they made their way through the mall, stopped for a few minutes and watched the skaters.
So after our meeting I went down and met the guy who ran the rink. I was from Minnesota. He was from Wisconsin. Blah blah blah. For the cost of hosting a D.A.R.E. skate night with Jo Jo Wright, he put the station logo in the ice…for two years. Until someone at his corporate office realized that they could sell that shit. 1.4 million pairs of eyes a month stared at that thing.
But nothing is perfect and I’m sure Carol would agree that I’m so far from even being marginal, that it wasn’t a surprise that I effed up my break at stardom.
I was a huge Steve Martin fan. Still am. And when I was a Freshman in college at Pepperdine, one morning as my roommate and I headed off to class, the speakers in the dorm announced that extras were needed at the pool for a Steve Martin Special that was being filmed that day.
Zoinks. Books dropped and mustering speed never seen in Mr. Behnings gym class, I hurtled down the stairs to the pool along with Bob and another dude. We were the FIRST down there. I sized up where the camera was and plopped down in the first row of the bleachers. Ha! I was going to be a star.
My roommate and the other dude are the two people between the sportscasters and my arm is the one in the red t-shirt at FAR left. But at :44 you can actually see half my face and make out the Leinenkugel shirt I got the previous summer. Roommate-and-dude were on the promos that seemingly ran every 18 minutes on the network and my arm looked spectacular.
Carol woulda got it right.
Paige Nienaber is VP/Fun ‘N Games for CPR and promotionally insults and consults over 150 radio stations around the globe. His two ebooks and lots of photos of hot interns can be found at www.cpr-promotions.com