How do you get an Oscar-winning actor to promote your brand?
Product placement has long been a tactic in the U.S. film and TV industry, but with the Netflix-produced show House of Cards (executive produced by Kevin Spacey), a new medium for product placement has emerged. In one of the first episodes of the series, Spacey's character Francis Underwood is seen playing with his PlayStation at home, then in episode four, there's this exchange:
Underwood: Is that a PS Vita?
Russo: Uh --
Underwood: Which games does he have?
Russo: All of 'em.
Underwood: I have a console at home, I play sometimes to relax. I oughta get one of these for the car. [Pause] So, Peter. We need to close the shipyard in your district...
That's quite an endorsement, and much more powerful than pre-roll ads on YouTube or Hulu.com.
It will be interesting to see how much product placement infiltrates other series produced outside of the traditional network and cable TV channels. If funding from product placement results in shows as good as House of Cards, it will be worth it. Perhaps executive producer Kevin Spacey is as Machievellian a marketer as Underwood is a politican.