Stak­ing a claim to TV pro­mo­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

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.

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