Motorola, Saab guest star in shows

International Promotions represents everything from Saab cars to Motorola radios and Hansen's soft drinks. Think of the walkie-talkies on "NYPD Blue," the ones grabbed by the detectives every time they're on duty.

"We had special labels made up for those Motorolas that said 'Property of NYPD'," says Linda Swick, president of International Promotions. Ally McBeal is a Saab owner on her show, and so was Jerry Seinfeld in his sitcom. Saab is also a Swick client.

Much of her placements take place through longtime relationships with propmasters and transportation coordinators. "We have worked with these people over and over again throughout the years," says Ms. Swick. The shows may change, but the people who work behind the scenes move from one to the next. The 13-year-industry veteran says that the product placement never drives story content.

"That's always up to the writers and directors," she says. Swick does, however, offer a telling glimpse of the power of relationships in Hollywood.

When "Seinfeld" was in production, through her company, Saab set aside two cars for the filming, one in New York and one in L.A. Swick, whose company tapes as many as 24 to 30 shows every day searching for her placements, says she noticed that the cars were not appearing very often.

"We talked to production [people] and said, 'We have two cars set aside for you. Do you think we could see them a little more often?'"

Swick says that although no promises were made, "after that conversation, Jerry and his crew actually wrote stories around that car," says Swick. Her contracts, which range from $15,000 to $150,000, make no promises about specific placements. They only guarantee a general number of "film and TV placements."

"There were verbal mentions and there was one whole episode around an international foreign dealership where Jerry walks in and says, "I want to buy a Saab."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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