Matching Actors and Brands: Differentiation Versus Alignment

Much of business is based on the concept of competition and differentiation. In this sense, business thrives using a direct strategy where one "brand" hits its head against another "brand" like mountain stags in heat.

Yet the emerging holistic business paradigm is not based on differentiation and competition, but rather on correspondence and alignment. Its overriding metaphor is a playing field where "brand" attempts to align with a compelling and attractive perspective that has currency. This "currency" has undergone various guises throughout history but today is best represented by entertainment genres. The increasing interest and fascination with product placement in movies, TV, radio, games, and books is a testament to this development.

Following this logic, one could say that leading brands are similar to the leading stars of Hollywood. Their success is based not only on horizontal competitive factors but on vertical alignment factors. The top brands are so, not because they win head-to-head contests of brute strength, but because they are associated with an expressive context that enriches their value. And this extends to their usage and appearance in the hands of actors within the situation of the entertainment vehicle.



It's the Character, Not the Actor We have written before about the symbolic nature of product placement quality. Now let's look at the difference character alignment can make to the success or failure of a placement.

If we follow the traditional rules of business, we think along the lines of a product endorsement: 'get me Sly Stallone to use our product in this movie.' Now, the question is: which Sly Stallone - Rocky, Rambo, or Judge Dredd?

The implications are obvious in this example. But this mistake is all-too-frequent.

Product placement quality is supported by the alignment between the character (in the entertainment vehicle) and the brand. Just as many strive to seamlessly embed the brand in the symbolic form of a story, but we must also take care to consider how the brand 'fits' the actor as he/she is portraying the character. For an excellent example, see a recent Media Post clip provided by iTVX.

Careful attention and some creative thinking around this detail can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful product placement effort. Remember to think symbolically and in the context of the story and character. Sly Stallone may be a perfect choice, but are you looking for Rocky or Rambo?

Next story loading loading..