The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Hurt Product Placement in Entertainment, But Why? Hollywood’s Lorenzo Rusin Reveals Tricks of the Trade

For James Bond fans, the new 007 film that was set to be released, has had a painful journey because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 007 franchise is known worldwide for its product placement contracts, ranging from mobile phones and gadgets, to automobiles and eyewear. Anyone who knows Bond, knows that he comes equipped with the latest tech, thanks to Bond Gadget Master “Q.”

But what producers and marketing behind the new 007 film are scared and rightfully frustrated about is the ongoing delay, and two-years worth of now, arguably, outdated technology that was in its prime, at the time of the integration. Sponsors have expressed their concerns that their products which were supposed to be featured in the film, will no longer be considered “cutting-edge” once the film eventually comes out.

Two years following 007: No Time to Die’s first trailer reveal, the film was reorganized for an October 2021 release. “The problem is that some of them were the latest models when we started shooting,” one sponsor told INSIDER. “But by the time the movie goes on sale, it looks like Daniel Craif and others are carrying what’s been out for years. That’s not really the point of these deals. Major tech companies want to have all the new up-and-coming products that help stars promote them and sell them to their fans. That means you have to edit some scenes very carefully and look to keep things up to date.”

Rumor has it the film had some pretty loaded contracts, including, but not limited to the return of Nokia and its mobile device, OMEGA watches, Bollinger champagne, and Adidas shoes.

Hollywood product placement executive, Lorenzo Rusin weighed in on the importance of brand integration in what we hope will be a post-COVID-19 entertainment realm. “It’s a really great question to ask, because today with the ways in which we are absorbing content, primarily through digital streaming platforms, brands now have the ability to ‘live’ forever, he told True Hollywood Talk. “Brands are forever immortalized in these works; a simple placement is all it takes…but it needs to be tasteful.”

Rusin, who has over 25+ years of experience in the industry as a branding executive, has worked on numerous films, including, but not limited to Bad Boys 4 Life, Terminator: Dark Fate, The Bucket List, among countless others. But Rusin has seen the effects this pandemic has had upon existing product placement contracts with films like 007 and Coming 2 America.

One of Rusin’s partners, an internet attorney and Hollywood media consultant, Andrew Rossow, told Vents Magazine that when it comes to these types of contracts, we have to be very careful. “Think about every TV series and/or film you and I are watching today, be it on Netflix, HBOMax, Disney+, etc—there are brands everywhere. Behind every brand is a legally enforceable agreement that depends on the successful placement of that product in that particular scene, within a very strict window of time.”

Rossow, 31, is the President and CEO of AR Media, a media consulting that helps entrepreneurs from all industries get their story out there, in what he describes as an extremely “fragmented media landscape.”

Photo Credit: Amaris Mendoza Photography

“You don’t have to be a Hollywood executive or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to be recognized,” he explained. “With the tumultuous press coverage we’ve seen over the past four years, and now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Donald Trump Impeachment Trials, there’s not much room for anything else, at least at these major outlets. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us should suffer. There are good stories to tell and they need to be told. I like helping those that have valuable insight to share, get recognized by the right people, in the right platforms.”

Rusin referenced a film he saw a few months back, where he described the product placement as “an absolute nightmare.”

“It remember watching a scene that occurred in a hotel room. Now, you and I both know what a standard hotel room looks like, how the beds and fixtures are situated. There were two individuals sitting on the couch talking, but next to them, was this plastic container of salami. It made no sense. Sometimes, you have placements at certain times, that are just not tasteful. You have to be tasteful when you are placing products in film or TV. You have to be realistic.”

And the perfect case study of a branding mishap, while accidental, was the Game of Thrones and ‘Starbucks’ cup phenomena that took the marketing world, HBO, and Starbucks by storm. Starbucks came out a winner, having not paid a single penny for what appeared to be its iconic coffee cups to mysteriously enter into a scene of Thrones. By the way, it wasn’t an actual Starbucks cup, but the general public assumed that because of the cardboard takeaway cup being front and center, it had to be Starbucks.

Either way, that was close to a $2.3 million marketing mistake, for HBO…but a free publicity campaign for Starbucks.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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