How to Make Your Product Famous (for Almost Nothing)
Anyone with a product to sell has fantasized about what it would be like to suddenly see it featured in a popular TV show or movie. Alexander Mendeluk has lived the dream.
The co-founder of SpiritHoods, a collection of animal-inspired funky fur head pieces, Mendeluk (and co-founders Chase Hamilton, Ashley Haber and Marley Morotta) have seen their product worn by celebs ranging from rapper Snoop Dogg to rocker Pete Wentz.
They’ve also been featured on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "Khloe & Lamar," "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and will soon be featured in a Disney movie starring Heather Graham.
The company's product placement efforts haven't cost them much more than their time and product.
Mendeluk said SpiritHoods' founders have leveraged the company's Los Angeles location by reaching out to anyone and everyone they know to try to get the product in celebrities' hands. They also send them as gifts to celebrities. But that's only half the battle. Celebs have to actually like the product in order for it to have any impact on the business.
"They would not continue to wear the product if they did not love the hoods," he said.
Mendeluk said that having a story behind his company’s products has really helped garner attention from Hollywood types. SpiritHoods donates a portion of its profits to nonprofits that protect and restore animal habitats
"It's important to have a story and cause behind what you're doing," Mendeluk told BusinessNewsDaily. "The philanthropic side to a company is extremely important. Celebrities are drawn to that because they are active on different causes."
Eric Fleet, founder and CEO of the sustainable fashion company, Threads for Thought, agrees that having a good back story can help land your products in front of the camera.
Threads for Thought's products, especially its graphic T-shirts, have been popular with celebs and stylists since the company's inception.
The shirts have recently been featured on "90210," "How I Met Your Mother," "Parks and Recreation" and "The Walking Dead." Yet, Threads for Thought has done nothing to promote the products, Fleet said.
Instead, they've all been bought by stylists at retail.
Fleet thinks that the stylists are inspired by the company's story — that it creates products using sustainable business practices and helps its suppliers work toward greener and cleaner goals.
"Some of them know about the social aspect of company," he said. "Stylists who shop all the time like our story and want to support it."
But, Fleet knows that the story is only as good as the products. Without a great product, his company wouldn't get noticed, no matter how great its business practices.
“You have to put the fashion first,” he told BusinessNewsDaily for a story on social entrepreneurs that appeared last month. “Your message alone is going to sell your product.”
Fleet's not the only one who knows that having a great product is the real key to getting it placed in movies and on TV.
Sarah Shaw learned that lesson first-hand.
The former handbag designer who had her own product lines hit pay dirt when one of her handbags was featured in the movie “Legally Blonde.” Not only did her product make the movie, it was used in the promotional poster. Before she knew it, Shaw found her purse being carried by retailers, including Nordstrom, which promoted it with a copy of the movie poster as a free gift.
For Shaw, the placement was a big deal, even though she had worked in the movie industry. Today, as the owner of the small business consulting firm Entreprenette, she offers a free product placement service to any small-business owners who want to sign up.
Called "Instantly Famous," the service feeds product placement requests from movie types to the regular folks who are struggling to break down Hollywood's door.
Shaw offers BusinessNewsDaily readers some tips on how they can handle product placement on their own:
- The easiest products to get into movies or on TV are clothing, accessories and shoes. Having an actor wear your product is also going to get you a bigger bang when approaching the press or stores. The second easiest is a prop or set dressing item.
- Contact the production office to find out who the costume designer, property master or set dresser (according to your needs) is and then send them your catalogs or line sheets with a note saying you'd like to show them your line and can offer them wholesale or even donate the products.
- You can find a list of current or upcoming shows by ordering Production Weekly for $60 a month. They have all the contact information so you can pick the appropriate shows for your particular collection and have the contact details at your fingertips.
- If they choose to use your product, be sure to deliver on time; if not, you may find yourself blacklisted.
- If you do get a placement, be sure to follow up to see if you can get a photo — they won't always be able to get you one, so ask once and then wait. When the film or TV show is released, you can use that moment to get PR for yourself by creating a "one-sheet" that features the product, the celebrity and the show — and send that to all press outlets and the stores you sell to and watch the money roll in!
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Additional reporting by Jennifer Vishnevsky, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor.