Staking a claim to TV promotion
HAVE you ever watched True Blood and wondered ‘‘ gee, I wonder who makes those stakes’’? No, I didn’t think so. But rest assured, there is an American company out there who paid a lot of money to have their finely crafted wooden vampire- killers featured in this hugely popular HBO series.
Product placement is big business, especially in an electronic entertainment industry where TV series and movies are finding it harder to make money through their audiences.
Companies will pay huge sums to have their cars or computers prominently featured in popular shows but this week I learnt of a high visibility product placement for an unexpected product.
There is a company in Arkansas called BlackBat ( yes, really) that specialises in the manufacture of high- quality pine and hardwood construction and survey stakes.
You know, the sort of stakes builders will use to mark out construction sites and roadsides, survey pegs and so forth.
BlackBat’s president Howard Bagby contacted product placement agency C3B Hollywood, a business specialising in getting its clients’ products featured on film and television.
C3B scored a deal with True Blood for BlackBat to supply all the stakes used on screen as anti- vampire weapons.
BlackBat co- operated by, well, sprucing up its stakes somewhat by carving them a little more ornately, polishing them, staining them and doing whatever it took to make them look the part for a fantasy series about the co- existence of humans and vampires.
Bagby said his company always prided itself on making low- breakage wooden stakes that could be depended on by those in the construction industry, but he saw a huge marketing opportunity.
‘‘ When the opportunity of placing our stakes on HBO’s True Blood presented itself, we immediately loved the idea as it connected so well with our brand both in product and persona,’’ he said.
‘‘ If you’re going to stake a project or kill a vampire, you need a stake you can depend on!’’ Yep. He really said that. BlackBat stakes feature throughout the current season ( season five) of True Blood but, naturally enough, don’t feature any visible branding because that would look distracting.
So perhaps that is why BlackBat has taken the unusual step of issuing a global media release, one that even reached my desk at The Mercury triumphantly telling the world about their marketing achievement, since you wouldn’t have any way of knowing otherwise.
And, if you’ve read this far, I suppose the ploy kind of worked.
You’ll find BlackBat on the web, with their logo of a black bat with wings spread and phone number listed as ‘‘ the batline’’.
So if you have a vampire that needs staking, now you know who to call.