Before becoming a principal in HERO, and occasionally after, I accumulated a varied list of credits as a TV writer/producer. As a member of the Writers Guild and SAG, the continued airing and sale of my work entitles me to some of what is known as “residuals.” Residuals are basically, payments made to me for the continued distribution of the shows upon which I have a credit. Many of my friends also work behind the scenes on productions and they too receive these checks.
Residual checks decrease as a production matures, so they often represent amounts literally in cents. Everyone I know with a history in production has received checks in the mail for less than the price of the stamp! But they keep coming. Even shows I wrote on in the 90s continue to drip tiny checks into my mailbox. So, why does this little slice of showbiz minutia have a place in a blog generally dedicated to helping brands who are seeking product placement representation learn more about the medium? Because it reinforces the key attribute of our practice; while every other form of advertising has diminishing returns, integrated placements actually have a decreasing CPM. The cost of our exposures actually go down in price throughout their lifespan.
So, the next time you see Canada Dry on your favorite episode of Everybody Loves Raymond or the Jaegermeister bottle on Joey’s kitchen counter on Friends, think of them as a residual check being delivered to a HERO client. The viewership numbers may be lower, but unlike first run commercial spots that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars then vanish in thirty-seconds, the exposure and value of product placement keeps rolling in.