Box office hit The Avengers contained a respectable amount of product placement.
Now, Acura is seeing its product placement in the superhero film expanded as deleted scenes are added back into the film for its DVD release. Could this form of retroactive product placement become a common Hollywood practice?
As we noted three months ago, The Avengers' major brand partner Acura seemed to have been given a bit of a bum role.
In a newly added scene to the extended DVD release, we find Steve "Captain America" Rodgers contemplating old WWII footage of himself, thinking about dead friends, and pensively walking the streets of Manhattan. At one point, he passes an Acura dealership. A gleaming, new RDX model in the window catches his eye just as a convenient break in the passing crowds allows the audience a full view.
As Flicks and Bits notes, "'The Avengers’ is currently sitting comfortably at the third spot on the all-time world box office list with a hefty haul of $1.436 billion." That kind of popularity guarantees healthy DVD sales, especially when those DVD copies are being spruced up with as-yet-unseen content.
As the DVD market weakens, adding new content to films is a growing Hollywood tactic to prop up sales. Similarly, adding in product placement -- at a level which might have prompted early negative reviews and comments for the theatrical release -- is an easy way to satisfy marketing partners and further leverage the film for revenue.
Post-production product placement has largely been done digitally. Back in 2004, the first Spider-Man film digitally replaced a product placed can of Dr. Pepper with a can of Miranda for international audiences. Just a couple years later, entire scenes were being filmed with no products at all, a sort of blank canvas to be sold later.
In some cases, this digital insertion can mess with the time-space continuum. For the TV show How I Met Your Mother, placements from the current day were added to show reruns from years previous.
In one example of where the practice is headed, PG Tips just signed an agreement in the UK with the show Deal or No Deal. PG Tips' brand will be digitally added to the show by brand integration specialists MirriAd. Mark Popkiewicz, CEO of MirriAd, told brandchannel, "A show, a series or even an entire network's output online or on television can be analysed extremely fast creating inventory accessible through a sophisticated online portal."
But Popkiewicz says that it's much more than slapping a logo on a cup in post production. For example, MirriAd's bespoke technology contextually tags video inventory to best fit certain brand categories. "Everything about that inventory, " Popkiewicz added, "is measured offering analytics available on demand for any campaign, be it on TV or online."
In the past, digital placement had limits. In most cases, post-production product placements were in the background, or props that weren't the focus of the action. But that is changing, and fast. MirriAd now does digital product integrations with lead characters and in full motion. Popkiewicz explained the Deal or No Deal placements allow contestants to "engage with the brand and move it around naturally." He continued, "Through MirriAd's technology we have greatly increased the liquidity of brand integration, making it possible to place brands in shows on demand, vital in a marketplace that's rapidly moving to digital planning and buying cycles."
So while The Avengers placement was likely shot in real life, such an approach may soon be as quaint and dated as Captain America himself. According to Popkiewicz, MirriAd's output is currently growing at a rate of 100 percent per month.