In a desperate search for funding, you will likely consider all options, bar robbing your very own grandmother. Because, of course, you would never consider anything illegal, right? Right?!
Actually, we found ourselves on a pathway to a life of imprisonment when we began approaching local companies with a view to investment via product placement (or what our friends across the Atlantic euphemistically call ‘brand intergration’). I mean, in 2002, the James Bond film Die Another Day set a record by making £44m from having 20 products featured in the film –from Omega watches to Aston Martin cars. Hey, so why not us? We would be happy with just £44.
But there were two kinda big issues: 1. Most companies we approached were not prepared to try something different for a relatively unknown film (even if it had Coronation Street’s most infamous villain in it) 2. And did we mention it is apparently now illegal in the UK?
‘What?!’ you say. ‘How can that be?’ Well, it is legal for brands to supply props, products and services to UK productions free of charge when editorially correct. But paid for product placement has been banned by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This seems to mainly apply to TV, but since many low budget films would not want to jeopardise their broadcast chances, we should all take note.
The good news is that most recently (actually the day this blog was posted -Sunday September 13,2009) it has been announced that, except for the BBC, product placement is becoming legal again (http://bit.ly/3zx12Y). Even if this doesn't happen, it doesn’t rule out free stuff. We eventually got a local newspaper –the Sussex Express- to provide free props for our film and usage of their logos etc. So if you need some fancy props for free this is still a good option for helping reduce costs as well as providing publicity options.
There are even UK companies set up purely to help with product placement. 1st Place (http://www.productplacement.co.uk/) is a ‘Preferred Supplier’ to the BBC and apparently had £3,750,000 worth of factored airtime exposure last year.
And just for fun, here are some of the worst examples of product placement to check out: http://bit.ly/TKyuU