In my 20 year career I have seen, and executed for clients, just about every way imaginable to get a brand or product release “hot” via product placement. First as a record promoter in the music business, then mobile promotions manager and lifestyle editor at The Source magazine and as a publisher, agency owner and consultant in my own ventures. The advent of the internet has dropped the curtain so this tactic is known by the average consumer and these days more people are “important” enough to receive these perks. So they’re, in a way, losing their impact if not done in a way that is strategic, targeted for the brand and separates you from the other companies doing the same thing.
When we would pitch brands we used to dazzle them with fancy capabilities decks. After being on both sides of the desk you come to find out most companies say they provide the same services and these decks become almost interchangeable. Instead of continuing to do this I flipped the script so that we start by asking these brands questions about what they really want and what their measurements for success are. Once we know this, we can customize an approach to help them achieve their goals and reach their desired consumer. Taking a little time to tailor a program that speaks to the specific needs of the client in that moment in time instead of doing what simply worked last year.
Reebok recently came to me with the idea of creating a product placement courier service and needed to make a video to showcase what this would look like. This was a perfect project for my newest venture, a partnership with Chace Infinite, Emeka Obi and Kyambo Joshua a/k/a Hip-Hop, Agency 78. I knew we had to do something to make it high energy and entertaining cause at the end of the day all we’re basically doing is giving people free product. I reached out to Russ from Complex, I knew the beard farmer would be down to do something crazy, so when I asked if we could have a messenger rider through the office he replied with an emphatic “hell yeah!” From there I knew the rest of the pieces would fall in place. We hooked up with a few of our friends you might recognize, add some fine shooting and editing by SHIFTILT, and you have the video you see here.
Am I saying this so groundbreaking no one has ever done or thought about it, of course not, but having a unique approach to your work will give you a better chance of standing out from the pack and getting more clients. “No idea’s original” – true. But creatively curating, tailoring if you will, your programs per your clients needs will always yield better results than a cookie-cutter execution.
We all want the perfect career and if you’re lucky enough to do something you love (I have “never worked a day in my life”), get to meet and work with great people, why not have as much fun with it as possible? And by no means is this a “how to,” just my opinion and what works for me, which it definitely did, as Agency 78 is now handling product placement for Reebok Classics.
In his 15+ years, “Hawaii” Mike Salman has made a career influencing global brands across key consumer categories. Through the brand consulting agencies he’s launched (Music Solutions, Seed Gives Life and LTD+) and marketing and editorial positions at The Source Magazine and magazines he’s created (LTD and Inked). Recently adding Manager to list of accomplishments, working with BMX athlete Nigel Sylvester and famed photographer Jonathan Mannion. He’s worked with Mountain Dew, Motorola, Nike, Burton Snowboards, SoBe, T-Mobile, Def Jam, Crown Imports, Estee Lauder, Etnies and Capcom. He has been featured in or provided commentary for WSJ, Sports Illustrated, Google, VH1 and BET. Born in San Francisco, raised there and Hawaii, lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and son.