ROLE IN TARANTINO FLICK COULD MAKE BRAND A STAR: MET-RX GETS FREE EXPOSURE VIA 'JACKIE BROWN'

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Met-Rx, a brand of nutritional and muscle-boosting foods and supplements, dominates an early scene in Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown." Not only does the character played by Bridget Fonda sing its praises, she even shows the character played by Robert DeNiro how to prepare it.

For Dr. Scott Connelly, chairman and founder of Met-Rx, it didn't take long for him to grant permission when he received a letter from the "Pulp Fiction" filmmaker last May, asking his OK to use the product.

"I said, 'Let me think about it . . . OK, go ahead!' " said Dr. Connelly last week.

Although Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has engineered a tidal wave of hype for its $100 million-plus product placement/promotional blitz for the new James Bond adventure "Tomorrow Never Dies," it's Met-Rx that may have scored the coolest such tie-in of the holiday film season. The much-anticipated "Jackie Brown" from Miramax Films opens Dec. 25.

FREE PLACEMENT

Unlike BMW of North America, Ericsson and Visa USA's ties with "Tomorrow Never Dies," Met-Rx's product placement didn't cost the company a cent.

Miramax said Mr. Tarantino makes all the calls on props in his films.

The screenwriter and director has a well-known passion for pop culture brand names. That interest has produced memorable scenes and dialogue on subjects ranging from Madonna ("Reservoir Dogs"); Marvel Comics ("Crimson Tide"); and Burger King Corp. and McDonald's Corp. ("Pulp Fiction").

Dr. Connelly said Mr. Tarantino wrote Met-Rx into the movie because he's a fan of the brand.

ATHLETE ENDORSEMENTS

Met-Rx doesn't solicit athlete endorsements or product placement, although it has employed as ad spokesmen athletes who already use the brand, including Troy Aikman and Mike Piazza.

Met-Rx has spent $25 million in advertising since 1992, almost exclusively in print.

Dr. Connelly says its doesn't bother him that Met-Rx in featured in a film that's rated R for violence and language.

Additionally, Ms. Fonda's character has been described in early reviews as a bit of a pothead, ironic for a character who's nutty for a nutritional product such as Met-Rx.

Nevertheless, Dr. Connelly said the film is culturally relevant to his brand's adult demo.

"The most valuable benefit of being in 'Jackie Brown' is the subjective

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