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Did luxury brands target too young with Twilight product placement?

November 22, 2011


Luxury brands such as Manolo Blahnik, Carolina Herrera and BMW all took advantage of the big screen with product placements in the latest "Twilight" saga series, "Breaking Dawn."

The movie, which was released this past weekend, raked in approximately $280 million in its first three days, attracting a high number of movie-goers worldwide. Indeed, brands such as Anichini linens, J Brand jeans, Volvo and a Bombardier private jet were also found in the movie, though the movie’s younger core consumers may not have realized the subtle messaging.

“If the product placement is on-target, organic and authentic, I think it can be a viable marketing option for luxury as well as mass brands,” said Carol Goll, head of global branded entertainment at International Creative Management, Los Angeles.

“[But], placements need to be image commensurate and organic to the movie or television show,” she said. “There needs to be similar DNA and authenticity.”

Right fit?
There was much hype beforehand on fashion and movie blogs about the wedding scene, particularly on the shoes and dress worn by Kristen Stewart’s character Bella Swan.

Indeed, Manolo Blahnik’s aptly named Swan Embellished Satin Pump was chosen for Ms. Stewart’s footwear.

The shoe got quite a lot of action, with the tom-boyish character being forced to practice walking in them.

There was also an emphasis on the shoes as Ms. Stewart walked down the aisle and the screen slowly opened to reveal the full wedding look.

Meanwhile, the wedding dress was designed by American designer Carolina Herrera.

While neither brand name was present while watching the film, the hype surrounding the wedding look by fashion and movie blogs has increased the brands’ awareness.

Indeed, Anichini linens spread the reach of its product placement by sending out an email to its newsletter subscribers alerting them to the Twilight Breaking Dawn placement, since the brand’s sheets were used in the honeymoon suite.

More obvious was the product placement of J Brand jeans, Volvo, BMW and the Baumdier Challenger private jet.

The jeans with their branded inside label were seen when Ms. Stewart’s character shuffled around in her suitcase.

The two automakers' logos were quickly present while the couple got in and out of the respective cars. Indeed, Volvo has had a leading part in all of the Twilight movies.

The Bombardier Challenger 650 name was clearly visible on the private jet that was used to fly the couple home from the honeymoon.

Driving the message home
The product placement, particularly those that clearly screamed the brand’s logo, likely expanded each brands’ awareness.

The reach of the movie is undeniable -- Breaking Dawn premiered in 54 countries and raked in more than $280 million worldwide as of press deadline.

Indeed, BMW has lately been emphasizing its product placement.

The automaker has a starring role in the upcoming "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol" movie.

A national broadcast, print, online and in-store campaign kicked off last week that features the slogan “Mission to Drive.”

The movie’s reputation for action, speed and excitement make it an ideal partner for BMW product placement and endorsement, according to the brand (see story).

However, while the Breaking Dawn movie had the fifth biggest opening weekend in U.S. history, the question is whether or not the movie’s core consumers are the same as luxury brand’s target consumers?

Though the movies have attracted a cult-like, widely-varied audience, the books and movies are mostly targeted at young adults.

“When you talk about marketing within a film, you are talking about mass advertising,” said Samantha Ettus, co-creator, producer and host of Obsessed TV, Los Angeles. “Most people absorb advertising messages rather than question them, unless they are done very poorly.

“Marketers need to keep natural symmetry in mind,” she said. “Make sure that the characters working with your product or using your product are in line with your target.”

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York