Dell, the Austin-based computer maker, has grabbed screen time in recent movies such as The Sum of All Fears, AI, and Miss Congeniality, and TV shows like 24 and The West Wing. Kim Britt, Dell’s director of entertainment marketing, talks about the art of product placement.
AW: What do you look for in scripts?
KB: I read them to see if they make a good fit for our products and to see how Dell products can work with the characters. A script might say, ‘Character X is on his notebook, looking up something on the Internet.’ We have eight different notebooks, so I have to decide what kind that character would use.
AW: Are bad guys off limits?
KB: If a bad guy’s on a computer, that’s OK. But we do steer away from scripts that feature excessive violence or drugs, or that show children in a poor light. Not all exposure is good exposure.
AW: Many companies pay for placement. Do you?
KB: When we started this two-and-a-half years ago, I proposed a zero-based budget. I’m sticking to it. We don’t pay placement agencies, either.
AW: Can you demand that the camera linger lovingly on your logo?
KB: (laughs) You can ask, but at the end of the day, we don’t control what goes on in the editing room. In Someone Like You, Ashley Judd’s on a Dell. Unfortunately, the logo was upside down. It was great publicity for a company named Lled.