Will Ferrell Makes Friends With Brands

In "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," the film's stars, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen, are everywhere on-screan and off wearing their favorite brand logos.

They are featured on the talk show circuit, the MTV Movie Awards, movie trailers, posters, print and Web ads and TV commercials. Ferrell even stars in uniform in commercials for Sprint Nextel, sponsors of NASCAR's Nextel Cup series.

None of the brands had to pay integration fees for their placements -- an increasingly common occurrence as brands seek more prominent roles in entertainment content. With Ferrell and "Talladega" co-writer and director Adam McKay writing Wonder Bread, Perrier and dozens of other brands into the script to poke fun at the over-the-top corporate sponsorship in NASCAR races, the filmmakers needed the brands' involvement just as much, if not more, than the brands wanted to be in the film -- a rare occurrence in the branded entertainment space.

"We needed to borrow their equity, too," Sony Pictures executive vp worldwide consumer marketing George Leon said. "Creatively, (the product placement) worked for the film. We benefited from it as well on many levels."

According to a Sony Pictures representative, the studio never asks for integration fees on its films but instead seeks backend promotions. In the case of "Talladega," Wonder Bread's parent company, Interstate Bakeries, committed to an in-store and on-pack promotion in tens of thousands of supermarkets nationwide. Old Spice did a full-scale promotion, spending about $2.3 million on TV spots, print ads, online banner ads and activation around NASCAR racetracks.

From Hollywood Reporter


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