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Updated Oct 20, 2023

How to Make Your Product Famous (for Almost Nothing)

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst

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Many entrepreneurs with a product to sell have fantasized about seeing it featured in a popular movie,  TV show, or even a viral social media post. Not only is it a major milestone to see your product on the screen, but it can also influence consumer buying decisions.

Alexander Mendeluk, Chase Hamilton, Ashley Haber and Marley Marotta are the founders of SpiritHoods, a collection of animal-inspired funky fur headpieces. They have seen their product worn by celebs like rapper Snoop Dogg and rocker Pete Wentz. SpiritHoods have also been featured on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

The company’s product placement efforts haven’t cost the founders much more than their time and a few freebies. Mendeluk said they have leveraged the company’s Los Angeles location by reaching out to everyone they know to try to get the product in celebrities’ hands. They also send them as gifts to celebrities.

Similarly, small businesses using social media marketing reach out to influencers for partnerships that promote their products to millions of followers. But that’s just half the battle. Celebs and influencers have to actually like the product for it to have any impact on the business. They’re also more likely to engage with brands that have a story behind what they’re doing, according to Mendeluk.

“The philanthropic side to a company is extremely important,” he told Business News Daily. “Celebrities are drawn to that because they are active in different causes.”

Put the product first, find the celebrities second

Eric Fleet, founder and CEO of sustainable fashion company Threads for Thought, agrees that a good backstory 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 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. Stylists bought them all 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 the 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 Business News Daily. “Your message alone is going to sell your product.”

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

It’s important to have both an effective product and a story behind it to get customers engaged and willing to invest in your company.

Getting help

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 firsthand. The former handbag designer’s own product lines hit pay dirt when one of her handbags was featured in the movie Legally Blonde.

Shaw’s product not only made it into the movie, but was also used in the promotional poster. Before she knew it, Shaw’s purse was 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 before. 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. The service, Instantly Famous, feeds product-placement requests from showbiz types to the regular folks who are struggling to break down Hollywood’s door.

Shaw offered Business News Daily readers some tips on how to handle product placement on their own:

  • The easiest products to get into movies or on TV are clothing, accessories and shoes. An actor wearing your product is also going to get you a bigger bang when you approach 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, 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.
  • Find a list of current or upcoming shows by ordering Production Weekly for $75 per month. It has all the necessary contact information for each show, so you can pick the appropriate ones for your particular collection.
  • 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, 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, use that moment to get PR for yourself by creating a one-sheet that features the product, the celebrity and the show. Send it to all press outlets and the stores you sell to, and watch the money roll in!

Social-famous products

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok offer the space to interact with audiences of all ages and create engaging content to market your products.

Because of platform algorithms, there isn’t one particular key to going viral. However, there are strategies you can use to increase product awareness on social media and user engagement in company content.

FYIDid you know

Due to the large volume of users on each social media platform, a post can quickly go viral, meaning it has spread quickly to a massive audience and gained thousands of views or more.

1. Know where to find your audience.

Do your research before attempting to promote your product on social media. Each social media platform differs in user demographics. Spend time on the platform as a user to get a feel for what content is being posted, who is interacting with it, and how. Immersive research is the most effective way to ensure your product placement and content will be seen by those you want to be buying the product or posting about it.

2. Take advantage of each platform’s features.

Each social media platform has a set of features that allow users to engage in various ways. There are text posting features with engaging reaction buttons, the ability to use hashtags to categorize a post or link it to a larger conversation happening online, photo and video sharing, and a “live” feature that allows users to have conversations with their followers in real time.

Posting regularly on social media is one way to increase product awareness. Posts can include a live Q&A with followers, a sneak peek at new products coming out, or a giveaway post that asks users to engage to gain entries.


Before running any kind of giveaway or promotion, learn the laws on social media contests and sweepstakes.

3. Use influencer marketing.

One of the most effective ways to increase product awareness is through influencer marketing. There are various types of influencers, ranging from a nano-influencer who has 10,000 followers or fewer to a mega-influencer who has a million or more followers.

Most influencers, also known as content creators, have a niche audience that can be extremely useful to brands that want to get their products out to a specific market. In exchange for some form of payment agreed on between both parties, the influencer will create content that promotes the brand’s product, links to their social media pages or website, and gives an honest review.

Sponsored content can reach thousands of people within hours, which makes influencer marketing one of the smartest strategies for product awareness.

Jeanette Mulvey and Jennifer Vishnevsky contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
Sean Peek is the co-founder of a self-funded small business that employs more than a dozen team members. His years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience in bootstrapping, operations management, process automation and leadership have strengthened his knowledge of the B2B world and the most pressing issues facing business owners today. Peek uses his expertise to guide fellow small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, finance and software technology. Peek excels at developing customer bases and fostering long-term client relationships, using lean principles to drive efficiency and cost-saving, and identifying growth areas. He has demonstrated his business savvy through collaborations with Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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