Gets Behind the Scenes of 'Ocean's Twelve'

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Royal Philips Electronics is a huge global brand that makes everything from electric toothbrushes and semiconductor chips to coffee makers and ultrasound imaging
Philips provided large amounts of tech gear to the 'Ocean's Twelve' production crew.

machines. But ask an average consumer in the U.S. what Philips makes and you'll likely hear either "flat TV" or "light bulbs."

Philips is on an aggressive mission to change that perception and is using entertainment as a key part of its strategy. After all, Americans are massive entertainment consumers. It made sense to Philips to try to reach them though that medium with an assertive strategy. To streamline and systemize its process, Philips about a year ago hired a product placement and promotional agency, Creative Entertainment Services.

Dipping into 'Ocean's Twelve'

A little more than a year later, Philips can be seen in hot TV shows such as 24, CSI and While You Were Out, and will be in premium spots in upcoming feature films including the Ocean's Eleven sequel Ocean's Twelve and Fat Albert, both due out in December, and Bewitched to be released next summer. Ocean's Twelve stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The Ocean's Twelve deal is an example of the depth and breadth Philips is seeking to establish itself in the entertainment world. Behind the scenes, Philips supplied security systems and media monitors, as well as tricked out the entire Hotel de Russie on location in Rome for the cast and crew by installing state-of-the-art home theater systems, including the not-yet-on-the-market Ambilight flat panel TVs and DVD player/recorders.

Mr. Clooney's room, the Picasso Suite, will retain its set up to entice guests with a combined draw of celebrity and high tech. Philips also gave out preview versions of its miniature wearable digital camcorders as gifts; even though they were not intended for use in the movie, the camcorders showed up because the cast and crew loved them so much. In fact, thanks to good impressions, Philips also ended up supplying story content by consulting on futuristic-type security and alarm system.

No money involved

The interesting twist is that Philips paid nothing to the producers of Ocean's Twelve in product placement fees. It may be a worldwide conglomerate, but its non-No. 1 status in the U.S. made for a non-No. 1 type budget. Philips couldn't afford the multimillion-dollar deals regularly struck by consumer electronics companies like Samsung. In fact, its goal is to spend no money at all -- and it usually doesn't.

"Part of the strategy is to show the uniqueness of the products, like the glowing Ambilight TV, which is awesomely cool, and to make sure everything is synched, in really catering to the production," said Stacy Jones, vice president of Creative Entertainment.

Sometimes that close rapport even results in sales. On the TV show 24 last year, the war room was outfitted entirely in Philips equipment courtesy of a Philips placement loan. The 24 production team was so impressed, it bought most of the equipment used -- at a discount, of course -- and then upgraded this year to the latest technologies.

The Creative Entertainment staff works closely with a relatively new group inside Philips called "Let's Work Together," which includes product placement among its duties. One member of the team, Paul Simonetti, Philips' director of brand communications, coordinates not only with Creative Entertainment but also within Philips to make sure that the variety of brands are on board and working together. While the team and the coordination is new for Philips, its consumer electronics products have been placed in movies before, including the Austin Powers franchise.

Broader product push

In the bigger brand push, all Philips products are loaned out to create a bigger picture of the company. For every TV and camera in Ocean's Twelve there are even more heart-imaging machines and hospital equipment on medical-related TV programs like CSI, Crossing Jordan, House and Third Watch. In the upcoming movie Bewitched, it's a Philips' Norelco shaver that gets the spotlight, as actor Will Ferrell uses the high-end electric shaver for several minutes while walking around the house. On Will & Grace, neighbor Jack often brews java with his Philips' Senseo coffee maker.

By thinking bigger in entertainment placement and marketing, Philips is hoping to similarly get its consumer thinking bigger things about Philips.

"We're not reinventing the wheel with what we're doing with Philips, but it's new for them at this level," Ms. Jones said. "The strategy is to build a global brand, so instead of pushing one product, Philips now presents a family of brands. The reality is there are a lot of sexy and cool products beyond just consumer electronics."
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