Bangalore: 'Don..." say Shah Rukh Khan, flipping open his stylish black Motorola cell phone. "Le zandu balm hui, darling tere liye" sings an irresistible Mallika in the hottest bollywood number of the year from Dabangg. With the protagonists using Apple laptops and drinking branded aerated drinks which are so covertly yet visibly placed at different scenes in story, brand placement in mainstream movies and TV soaps are no more unintentional depictions but a deliberate and strategic branding and marketing technique.

I may assert that you would have at least noticed Coke's perfect placement in Rang De Basanti or Marlboro's placement in 'Swadesh' (remember SRK asking heroine to hide the cigarette pack) or many mobile brands including Blackberry and Motorola featuring in many recent movies you have seen. If you think it's there just for the sake of being there or an accidental part of the script, you are probably wrong. Brand Placement in movies has been a gizmo devised and identified as a potential marketing tool during early 80's when Spielberg hid the alien from outer space inside Reese chocolates (for which the company paid later) in his landmark movie 'E.T'. And with the new concept in India's advertising world that is gaining traction, the 360-degree marketing, one may wonder while watching the recent Bollywood movie 'We are family' why plastic tubs seem to feature as much as the celebrities who star in it. Two-thirds of the film was shot in a kitchen made by German kitchen brand Poggenpohl for which the film's budget got paid of course.

The common practice of doing 30 second or one minute ads in Indian channels doesn't seem to be doing its trick in the market clutter ( come on, Indians have enough choices on channels and technologies to skip through). And advertisers have moved to films and TV soaps where they can display their brand which cannot be ignored in the process of viewing. While a few brands like Nike gets there product placed in movies at no cost by supplying goods like shoes, bags, jackets etc to the movie company, some other brands get the script tailor made for placing their products. Technology brands like Apple have been doing this kind of a 360 degree branding in umpteen numbers of Hollywood movies. Tracing back, one can find that Apple have been doing brand placements in movies all the way like Independence Day (1996), Fight Club (1999), Sex and the City (1998-2004)etc.

So how does this really work? Sometimes a brand placement simply happens. Sometimes it's arranged, and a certain amount of the product serves as compensation and sometimes it's arranged, and there is financial compensation. Usual kind of deal is a simple exchange of the product for the placement. For example, the production team wants lead actor to display a quirky affinity for a particular type of beverage. This will come across rather strongly over the course of the program which means the chosen product could get a lot of air time. So the production people approach a particular beverage company folks with a proposal and a deal is made; in exchange for the airtime, the cast and crew are provided with an ample supply of the beverage at work. Now you remember Hritik drinking a lot of Bournvita in the Movie 'Krish' right?

So what should the audience do? Nothing, simply grab your popcorn, lay back on the seat and enjoy the movie. Feel happy when you spot the brands as they appear with or around your favorite celebrities and as the marketers expect, recall them at the point of purchase. Or maybe you can rate them with a Filmfare award for the best brand that starred in recent movies later. 
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