Brand Casting: why pay for the cow?

Despite the enormous up-fronts for the major networks, advertisers continue to scramble to find alternate vehicles to promote their brands and products. While we know what ad sales staff will do for a buck, some creatives appear quite willing to make room on tabletops, in kitchen cupboards and in carports - for an extra cheque or two. Steve Martin, for example, set his novel Shopgirl in the Beverly Hills outlet of Saks Fifth Avenue. Now being produced as a film, Shopgirl is set in Neiman Marcus.

For Martin, the tweak to his artistic integrity appears to have been relatively painless. As his book climbed the bestseller lists, he said: "I wrote a novel this year called Shopgirl, and several producers came to me and wanted to turn it into a movie. And I said: 'If you think you're going to take this book and change it around, and Hollywoodise it . . . that's going to cost you'."

Some marketing execs, though, seem to wonder why they should pay for the cow if they're getting the milk for free.

"We never pay for placement," says Jeff Bell, marketing chief for the Chrysler and Jeep marques. "We call it brand casting."

DaimlerChrysler won thousands of media hits for their Crossfire after it was "cast" in the finale of the Apprentice. The cost? A few free cars.

Today, the FT discusses the relative value of different placements on television and in film.