Matt Meyerson of BWR PPI Glories in Fashion, Action Sports and Pop Culture

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Who: Matt Meyerson, senior VP product placement, BWR PPI.

Why you need to know him: Mr. Meyerson oversees the branded-entertainment efforts for companies in the fashion, action sports and pop culture arena for public relations powerhouse BWR.

Credentials: Mr. Meyerson founded BWR PPI (placement, promotions, integration) nearly a year ago. Before that, he ran his own placement and marketing company from his home for two years. “I have a very nontraditional entrepreneurial background that spans the action sports, design, nonprofit, fashion and technology sectors. I have always started my own ventures raising capital or bootstrapping ventures.” He is also the co-founder of The Groundswell Society, a nonprofit educational and cultural organization centered around surfing.

You started BWR's product-placement arm. Why did the company need one? “BWR is one of the top entertainment PR firms in the world. As part of the Ogilvy family of companies ... BWR and Ogilvy are always collaborating on ways to meld Hollywood with corporate America. Product placement was a natural extension of where the business was headed." BWR founders Paul Baker, Nanci Ryder and Larry Winokur "had the vision to recognize the company's capabilities in this space and test the waters with a small offshoot division. So far, so good.”

Who are your clients? “My retained clients are mainly in the fashion, action sports and pop culture space: Rebel Yell Clothing, Kasil Jeans, Local Celebrity T-shirts, Geoff Thomas Designs Jewelry, Patricia Candido Jewelry, True Love & False Idols Clothing, ROXS Clothing, Materialust Clothing, Gary Scott USA wallets and money clips, Primedia/Action Sports Group's The Modus Project and Surfing Magazine's swimsuit issue. I have also done special projects, events and one-off placements for brands like Hasbro, O'Neill Clothing, Zirh and Jamster, among others.”

What do you specialize in doing for them? “I really enjoy spotting trends before they become trends and taking them to the moon. I am about young Hollywood. I place product with them, on them, for them -- film, TV, print, music videos, events, red carpets, Web and on the talents’ backs. I don't even like the term 'product placement.' For me it is all about brand immersion. Anywhere and everywhere as long as I hit the proper demographic.”

What are some of the most recent deals you've put together for them? Recently, we took over a hotel during MTV's Video Music Awards in Miami and I brought three brands to the event. One of them was Hasbro and their new Bop It Blast toy. In collaboration with sister company Alliance Agency, we managed to get some great names to participate in an advertorial for Teen People to

launch the product, while raising $20,000 for the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. I always try and tie in a charity element. I am in the business of giving stuff to the haves so I always try and balance that out by doing something for the have-nots. We tend to get jaded here in Hollywood.”

What makes a good branded-entertainment deal for you? “One that is clean. I hate projects that seem forced. That is why I really enjoy fashion. With other brands people are completely aware they are being advertised to. However, with fashion people actually track this stuff. They want to see what Hollywood is wearing. How many blogs and fan sites do you know of that track each time a particular cereal or soap shows up on screen or at an event? For fashion, the number of sites that track this stuff is innumerable. Most ‘deals’ I work on have an end result. When a brand comes to me with a specific motive and I can reach their goals in a way that positively affects their sales and brand recognition, I can sleep at night.”

How do you measure success? “It’s all about sell through. If the client is getting a lot of good exposure and the product is not selling, they have to reevaluate their product. That is why I hand-pick clients and frankly turn down a lot of business. I can't work with products and brands that aren't going to help my cache as the agency to go to for the ‘cool factor.’ That is where BWR succeeds in general, so I am just carrying that over to products.”

What kind of benefit can a brand get for sponsoring or hosting an event? “I am the ultimate cynic when it comes to events and all the branding that goes with it. Unless there is a really targeted audience you are trying to reach and you can guarantee coverage of the event, in general, they are a waste of money. Gift bags are a huge no-no for me. The press that came out on Sundance -- or Brandance, as I like to call it -- was so negative on gifting and sponsored events that I think there will be a real backlash against that sort of thing. People will come back to wining and dining the people that make the decisions on what is cool and what isn't -- editors, stylists, prop masters, etc. That is where you have large success. It is amazing the amount of coverage and placement you can get by giving someone who makes decisions a free pair of jeans or $100 t-shirt. I have done events that have cost $10,000 to my client and have garnered hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in press and placement value.”

When it comes to credit for putting together branded-entertainment deals, publicity firms are often overlooked. Why is that? “Not at BWR. I make sure I get credit when it’s due. Thorough tracking and client reports do wonders if there is ever any doubt. The fact that so few PR agencies have dedicated resources to placement is beyond me. The traditional PR fee structure is stagnant."

When compared to product-placement shops or branded-entertainment producers, what role can a PR firm play in putting together branded-entertainment deals? “Everyone in this town can be a ‘player.’ PR agencies, talent agencies, production companies, management companies -- it's all about who you know and what you can get accomplished with the resources in your bag of tricks. It's all about being creative. PR firms have tremendous resources. They have a built-in clientele who first have to be educated on the benefits of product placement and then have to be willing to pay for it. I have listened to people in various PR offices who have pulled off stunts that were great PR pieces and got heaps of press for their brand, but cost an arm and a leg. They get excited when they can count impressions above 5 million. One episode of a good TV show and you can reach over 20 million people for little more than giving out free product. That is return on investment.”

What's on your iPod? “Ha. I got gifted one from another placement agency for helping their client get into a Sundance party. I was so excited and downloaded music for a week straight. That was over a year ago. I am so busy that I never have time to upload any of the free music I get from the labels. I still have the same 1,500 songs I put on there last year. Pretty eclectic mix from vintage punk to alternative country to classical to indie rock.”

What's on your TiVo? “Believe it or not, I don't watch much TV. I TiVo whatever my clients get hits on and then I make sure the placement is made and make a dub. For personal viewing I would say ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Entourage’ and, of course, ‘ET,’ ‘The Insider,’ ‘ET on MTV.’ They are good to me. Always are up on what’s going on.”

What do you do on your downtime? “Try not to think about work.”

You're an avid surfer. Where are your favorite places to surf? “Anywhere with warm water and the surf is good, which pretty much eliminates most of California. I have surfed great spots in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Mexico and Northern California. I grew up in Orange County and love my old spots, Salt Creek and Newport. In L.A., I mainly frequent Third Point Malibu and Venice Breakwater. No product placement allowed in the water!”
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