Product Placement Executive

  • Product Placement Executive

Product placement executives are the individuals employed by entertainment companies like film studios and record labels to field requests for embedded marketing—otherwise known as product placement or brand integration—in films, television shows, video games, music videos, and albums. It also falls to the product placement executive to secure clearances for trademarked goods that his or her company wishes to mention or feature in the entertainment production. 


Depending on the unique circumstances of each project, the product placement executive may be answering calls or placing them. Whether Ludacris wants to sport fresh new Pumas in a video or M.A.C. Cosmetics is eyeing lip service from Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, the executive representing the film production studio or record label takes proposals from product placement specialists and agents concerning verbal, visual, or hands-on embedding. On the other hand, if the script calls for Jon Favreau to blow up seven Audis in another Iron Man movie, the executive is responsible for securing the rights to use Audi’s trademarked brand in association with the project. The specific terms of the product placement deal will depend greatly on who is doing the asking and how badly the “placer” wants the brand mention. Compensation packages can include a free supply of the product, a direct cash transaction, or a sponsorship agreement.

It is the product placement executive’s responsibility to determine the most lucrative and positive brand integration opportunities, whether that be carefully weighing offers from advertisers or identifying exceptional opportunities for placement and seeking out an agreement. If AOL didn’t get on board with You’ve Got Mail, what might have happened to Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? Better not to think of such a strange and uncertain world. The executive is tasked with communicating with all concerned parties—be that film producers, A&R executives, or game creative directors, etc.—to gain approval for the use of the product or brand, and to take their concerns to the advertiser in pursuit of a brand integration agreement. Getting the deal done often involves several meetings and phone calls between the executive and a placement agent or rep trying to impress upon one another the value of his or her client. This is the haggling stage, trying to put a dollar value on a possible five seconds of E! Network airtime if Beyoncé wears a Juicy Couture charm bracelet during the press junket for her new tour.  When the negotiations are complete and the dust has settled, the goal is a contract that will make money for all parties concerned: the advertiser reaches its audience, and the entertainment producer receives the much-needed goods or financial support.

Skills & Education

To work on the entertainment end of the product placement relationship, a degree in entertainment business is encouraged. Specializations in music business, marketing, advertising, or video game development are also relevant to those who wish to concentrate their career on one segment of the industry. Coursework should include classes in copyright law, as you will regularly deal with questions of ownership, fair use, and other legalities. Also helpful are courses in advanced mathematics and statistics. A product placement executive must understand the implications of demographic data and know how to distill that information. Of course, the executive must be endowed with an inherent likability and the negotiating savvy to close even the most contentious deal. Product placement is essentially sales, and a good salesperson succeeds on charm as much as know-how.

What to Expect

The job is all about understanding the real-world value of an intangible commodity and building strong professional relationships. With the knowledge and charisma to achieve both of these goals, a product placement executive can become a highly successful individual with a lucrative career. About half of the work is wining and dining, while the other half is the very serious task of research demographics, consumer purchasing statistics, and tracking placement data and media mentions. That boils down to a considerable amount of research and number-crunching. Certainly, there are some aspects of product placement that are driven by instinct and experience, but your instincts and experience must be supported by raw data that can be quantified and reported.



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