Glassdoor-Employer Center Rollout

By: Sandy Schest

Tuesday April 9, 2013

Glassdoor-Employer Center Rollout

Glassdoor is a career community that allows potential candidates to get an inside look at jobs and companies.  The information is generated by users for reviews and salaries, while employers are able to control the “overview” tab of their company profile.  Anonymous salaries, company reviews and interview questions are posted by current employees, job seekers and sometimes the companies themselves.

At the end of March, Glassdoor rolled out a new, self-service tool that allows employers to edit their profile and view performance metrics on the backend, rather than wait for Glassdoor reps to make profile changes or send them monthly reports.

Here are some of the new features that employers can take advantage of with the Free Employer Account (a resource available to all employers):

  • Updating of company profile-e.g., website address, HQ location, company info etc.
  • Editing and updating of company descriptions and mission statement
  • Responding to company reviews- negative and positive
  • Updating of awards, accolades and photos
  • Requesting competitor list on Glassdoor

Here are some of the features that employers can take advantage of with the Free Employer Center:

  • View profile metrics- clicks and impressions
  • View demographics about your candidate pool
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Education
    • Years of Experience
    • View top job titles amongst those viewing your client’s profile on Glassdoor
    • View top locations amongst those viewing your client’s profile on Glassdoor

The Employer Center is available directly from a company’s profile page on Glassdoor and can be viewed at anytime, anywhere.  This new Employer Center offers a 360-degree view into the workplace and allows employers to get involved in the conversations happening on Glassdoor and gain better insights into their company’s talent brand.  If you’d like more information on Glassdoor, please contact me at or check it out at





The Importance of a Strong Talent Brand

By: Sandy Schest

Monday April 1, 2013

Talent Brand

“Without Talent, there is no Brand.”- LinkedIn

Last week, I attended a conference in Denver, CO put on by LinkedIn that focused on Talent Acquisition for organizations seeking to build a better talent brand around the talent they employ.  They asked the question, “What differentiates your employees’ experience from that of an employee at a similar company?”

Talent Brand is a social, public perception of your company that incorporates how your talent (past or present) experiences, views, and feels about your organization as a place to work.  Companies with strong talent brands, such as Google or Facebook, typically don’t have trouble hiring for positions in their organization.  It has been shown that companies with a strong talent brand save, on average, over 50% per hire because the organization has a strong Talent Brand Engagement, which allows them to ‘organically’ draw candidates to their company.  Companies with strong engagement have followers who are interested in the organization; they research and follow the company on social media, they apply for jobs and they connect with the brand.

Until recently, companies had great influence about how the work experience at their organization was portrayed – because they were able to tell their story directly to talent, without online social networks telling it for them.  Now, with the continued progression of popular social media sites- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Glassdoor- talent brand has become a two-way street.  For an organization to help evenly weigh the scale of talent perception, they have to adopt these social tools and participate in the conversation. They have to tell their story, too because let’s face it- social media is here to stay.

Here are 5 steps to socialize your talent brand in a positive way.

  1. Relevance- you have to put your company on the map.  Not all brands can be the Starbucks of coffee of or the Apple of technology.  Take the time to create an interesting Facebook page and Twitter account.  Follow similar companies and brand yourself as a top employer in your industry.
  2. Consistence- make it a priority to update your social media.  Nothing is more frustrating than following a company who only updates their pages a couple times a month.
  3. Credible- make sure that your message doesn’t contradict with what people know to be true.  If your company has some negative public perceptions, address them and move on.  Once you’ve cleared the air, communicate and promote the positives; company match 401K, take your pet to work days, community outreach, monthly company lunch, etc.
  4. Inspirational- give your potential candidates something to be inspired by!  Whether it’s photos from your company’s annual food drive or offering college reimbursement.
  5. Unique- Like Warren Miller once said, “You are a unique person, just like everyone else!”  All companies are going to try to make themselves seem unique.  Stand out from the crowd; don’t be afraid to portray your company in a way that is nontraditional or different.  Candidates are so used to seeing the same thing over and over; give them something so that they remember your brand.

When branding your company’s talent, start with the “Why” and end with the “What”.  Move your message from what or how you do it to why you do it.  All employers should see talent branding as a vital aspect to improving their recruitment outcomes. Regardless of the industry or size of the organization, every company can use the influence of a strong talent brand and social media is now one of the best platforms which enable companies to tell their “brand” story.


Bieber Fever in Denver

I made a bold decision last night. I braved not only the cold, but also thousands of screaming, purple-wearing tween girls, in order to enter the Pepsi Center to see none other than Justin Bieber and do some “advertising research.” The Biebs and I only go back 3 years when I stumbled upon his “Somebody to Love” music video online. I instantly became enthralled with his George Harrisonesque hair-do, angelic voice and impressive dance moves. The kid had talent and I was about to succumb to what is known as Bieber Fever.

It might seem a little ridiculous that a 27-year old woman like myself legitimately enjoys listening to Justin Bieber, but I can’t help it. In past months I have wondered what would happen to the Biebs when he entered manhood. His innocent voice would deepen and either ruin his career or evolve into something he can work with. If he really has talent he should be able to overcome puberty right?

The Biebs is currently on his Believe tour, which I was fortunate to experience from front row, club level seats. The album Believe released its first single “Boyfriend” on March 26th, 2012 letting fans around the world hear what the Biebs’ transition into manhood sounded like. I personally wasn’t a fan of the single, which was co-written by Biebs and Mike Posner. I felt that it was an easy song to mask his changing voice, but fans disagreed making the song number two on Billboard’s Top 100. Was this a result of finding a successful song for his new more mature voice, or because he had already established himself in the music industry? I was anxious to hear what else the Biebs had come up with for his third album. He had already made the decision to change his hair, no longer having the Bieber bangs I once fell in love with. He caved in style by combining house music with R&B in his next single “All Around the World.” Eventually he hit a soft spot for me personally with “Die in Your Arms” by sampling Michael Jackson’s “We’ve Got a Good Thing Going.”

Is musical talent relevant once you have established celebrity? The Biebs currently has over 30 million followers on his Twitter account @justinbieber. The size of his audience and influence he holds on Twitter is a pivotal reason for advertisers to pay attention to Twitter. With just one tweet the Biebs can reach a large chunk of a valuable market. For example when the 2011 Egyptian Revolution was going on, the Biebs tweeted to his then 8 million followers discussing the topic. He managed to influence discussion among youth that may not have been informed of the situation otherwise.

The market for Justin Bieber is not only incredibly large, but vast. Suffice it to say, I was still intrigued with him so when the opportunity came to attend his Denver concert on January 7th. 2013, I most certainly did . I went with a group of friends all in our late twenties and all still influenced by the Biebs. We were instantly divided by the copious amounts of girls running and screaming. Parents lagged as their young went crazy in a fashion similar to Lord of the Flies. Kids ruled the Pepsi Center and parents had no control over what was to come next.

I took a good hard look around once I was seated and noticed that the audience was uninterested in the concert opener Carly Rae Jepsen. Girls were fidgeting with their homemade signs declaring their love for the Biebs, parents were busy texting and security was for the most part in control… at that point. Then the audience screamed, which caused me to scream, when the timer appeared on the big screen marking a ten minute countdown. People were in a frantic. It was as if everyone was late to catch a flight. What felt like the longest ten minutes of the year ended with Justin Bieber himself being flown out by tacky angel wings only to descent on stage and immediately bust into song and dance with “All Around the World.”

The concert primarily played new songs and only sampled small portions of his old ones that shot him to fame. I failed to see him in concert when he was a true value to society as a singer, but that still doesn’t mean he isn’t influential. There was an interlude video emphasizing the change that the Biebs is going through and how he has to adapt his voice to new songs as part of creating an adult identity. I understood that as an attempt to re-market him as the man Justin Bieber. He finished the concert strong with a two-song encore featuring “Baby” and “Boyfriend,” while breaking young hearts around the audience sending them home for their 10pm curfew.

Justin Bieber knows how to entertain a crowd, whether it’s singing a cappella, playing his own instruments such as drums and guitar, caressing the face of the “One Less Lonely Girl,” or referencing what a toll the altitude is taking on his performance, he is a performer. He holds a role in our society that influences millions of people and remains a valuable channel of communication for marketers. Although he has managed to train his new voice to sing and maintain pitch, one question remains: Will he be able to keep a presence in the music industry and continue to remain marketable or will he struggle to find a musical identity as an adult?

2013 Resolutions, Priorities and Goals

2012 is gone and done with. The last few months were so busy that I literally forgot to make some resolutions for 2013. Besides the standard resolutions of eating better and actually working out, there are more important, goal-oriented resolutions to focus on.

Obviously I have poor time management skills if I have forgotten to make resolutions. According to a article, Benjamin Franklin came up with an approach to change personal habits that allow for proper time management. Primarily focused with changing character traits, Franklin suggested that people should be as honest with themselves as they can about what they want and why they want it. This is the foundation for how you will factor goals into your day. Franklin pointed out something that I think a lot of people tend to ignore: Listening to your own body. It’s important to pay attention to your body such as energy levels, both mental and physical, and understand what affects them positively and negatively. The better you feel then the more likely you won’t let little things stress you out during the day. When focusing on daily goals set fewer priorities. Focus on two things that are important to you that day and focus your energy on accomplishing them to your standards. Whether your priorities are work related or personal, you can achieve them with the right mindset. It’s important to focus on the task in front of you opposed to the overall bigger picture.

My goals for 2013 revolve around time management, fitness, and starting a professional career. As a graduate student who works and has an internship, I find it hard to find time for myself and I have lost track of a lot of my priorities such as running and cooking healthy meals. Those are both things I enjoy that relax me, but my schedule has made it difficult to do them both. By practicing better time management skills I can accomplish my fitness goals as well as organize my life a little better. The end of graduate school is looming, which means I will have another life-style change to adjust to. I have to prepare myself for the reality that a job might not be there when I graduate and that I might have to experience the stress of unemployment. If things go the way I would like them, then I will finish 2013 with a career underway. Given the opportunity for a career calls for a whole new set of goals revolving around professionalism. For me personally I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I just have to work hard to get there and feel accomplished.

There are many ways you can incorporate social media into securing that you accomplish your resolutions. Create a Tumblr account and blog about your goals. If it’s fitness, talk about fitness. If it’s about your job, use it as a tool to track your successes and recognize your failures. You can also tweet your accomplishments. Acknowledge that you achieved something and share it with your followers. If they do the same, it can be used as a motivational tool. If you are an active Facebook user, take advantage of the timeline. I know many of us are still dissatisfied with the Facebook layout, but it’s a useful tool to gage how you spend your time and whether or not you are actually working on achieving your goals and to remind yourself of the positive things that you just had to post. You might even realize that you express a lot of negativity and realize that you need to make some changes.

So start 2013 off right. By using social media and taking the time to focus on what you really want to accomplish, 2013 can be a great year. A few months in you can look over everything you’ve tracked and give yourself a pat on the back for your progress. Sometimes its hard to really see that you are changing and succeeding and through social media you have it all right in front of you.

Thoughts from a Graduate Student on Facebook and Issues of Freedom of Expression

Facebook and online censorship is a common topic among users of the site. Many recent or soon to be graduates are told to limit the information they share on their personal profiles for professional purposes.

Most employers probably look up potential candidates online and if that means peeking at a prospect’s Facebook page, you might have some things to consider. In fact, according to a CareerBuilder survey, 37% of employers are looking up candidates Facebook profiles to get a general sense of how professional the candidate might be. On the other hand, 12% of employers look at candidate’s profiles to find reasons why they shouldn’t hire them. Facebook started as a more personal social networking platform vs. a professional one like Linkedin.

I use Facebook for personal reasons to connect and share information with friends and family. I feel it is a great networking platform between friends and not with employers. I have my profile setting set to private to prevent my page from showing up on a simple Google search. Facebook and privacy settings are constantly changing making it difficult to be a private user.

However, there are some bigger issues revolving social media platforms than job searching and privacy settings. Freedom of expression is tightly linked to the internet and generally allows users to express themselves without heavy censorship.

The protest in Egypt on January 25th, 2011, challenged some of the issues regarding the internet, Facbook and freedom of expression.  Activist Wael Ghonim credited Facebook as a contributor to the success of the Egyptian people’s uprising against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Ghonim reached out to many Egyptian youths through Facebook to encourage the ouster of Mubarak. It was through online communication and organization through Facebook that helped encourage the protest. This leads to questions surrounding the proper uses of Facebook as a social platform and how it is ultimately governed.

So we’re told we can’t be too explicit with our personal profiles, but we can create pages that encourage political protests? Ghonim’s page titled “We are all Khaled Said,” was originally created to commemorate the death of Khaled Said, who was beaten to death by a police officer for promotion drug possession online. The page later emerged as a platform for Egyptian activists that was used in conjunction to share photos and images of police brutality that led to the internet temporarily being shut down in Egypt. So what exactly was the purpose of the censorship? Was it because of the content associated with the images or the actual promotional of a political revolution?

Monitoring personal Facebook pages when it comes to job searching seems trivial when people in other countries are using the social platform for news and other forms of communication.

Now Facebook is allowing its users to vote on December 10th on proposed changes to its policy regarding privacy changes and data use and how it is shared. Facebook’s latest privacy change would allow information to be shared publicly with its photo-sharing service Instagram. In addition, the changes would allow advertisers to message users directly and change user settings that control who can send and receive messages on Facebook.

So what was intended to be a social networking site to connect users with friends and family has now become a site used by employers to weed out applicants, a site to encourage political change and a site to help advertisers position specific ads to target demographics. Where do we draw the line of censorship? Users are told to limit what they post to avoid problems with getting a job. Countries are told they can’t use the site to communicate newsworthy information because of the sensitivity of the content but yet it’s ok to share user’s information with public companies such as advertisers?

Facebook shouldn’t have to box its users with invisible guidelines of what should and shouldn’t be shared on the site especially when there are privacy options. To allude to a sense of privacy and yet share user information is a violation of trust. Users need to understand that they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Underneath it all, Facebook is used to connect people with the world, and unfortunately a world outside of friends and family. Advertisers and employers are going to be there no matter what the privacy guidelines are. The best practice is to self-censor personal pages and leave the rest up to Facebook to decide when content isn’t appropriate.


Advertising a product without Advertising

Nokia was one of the first brands to produce cellular phones popular with the Generation Y crowd. Maybe we can credit Zack Morris for starting the cell phone craze amongst high school students back in the 90’s, but the fact remains that anyone in their late twenties and early thirties most likely had a good old-fashioned Nokia brick of a phone that made them the envy of their peers.

Developing a brand goes beyond creating a personality for the brand. Development extends to the consumer experience of the brand. Nokia as a brand has in the past has seized opportunities to capitalize on the needs of its consumer market by including a game console in the mobile device. Brain D. Till and Donna Heckler state that brand positioning lives in the mind of the target consumer. Consistent with this idea is the concept that a brand as a product or service must perform in conjunction with the message being transmitted.

Now that all big name cell phone manufacturers are put in the ring to compete against the iPhone for smart-phone market share, Nokia has taken on the challenge to present its products to the same demographic. But how does Nokia efficiently position its brand with consumers and demonstrate the desired experience behind its messaging?

Last year, Nokia UK launched its newest version of the windows-based Lumia smart-phone by capitalizing on the messaging behind Lumia. The name Lumia can safely be assumed to have come from the word luminous, relating to light. The brains behind Nokia reenacted a similar performance from the previous year that used a 4D projection on London’s Millbank Tower. They hired someone their target demographic would identify with to surprise London with a secret and intimate concert, which was one for the books. Nokia hired a larger than life DJ named Joel Zimmerman AKA Deadmau5. Deadmau5 is known for his artistic use of the latest computer technology to develop sets that often inspire his music on the fly.

The show in 2011 was just the start to the “This is Lumia” campaign and effectively coordinated messaging reflective of the brand and more importantly the product itself. The young UK population is known for loving fun, dance music and technology. This year Deadmau5 returned as an unofficial brand ambassador to light up London square. The campaign this year was called #switch, which encouraged the masses to switch to something different.

Nokia’s use of Deadmau5 to softly advertise for their product surely peaked the interest of those that attended the show, and the millions that tuned into the live stream of the events. This creative, albeit expensive, soft advertising technique brings up some great insight into advertising products. Experiential advertising is nothing new, but is becoming the norm in a digital age that is at your finger tips. People crave experiences to connect them to the product.

This campaign makes us think about the future of advertising. Maybe it isn’t always about stuffing your message into every piece of collateral you produce, but rather approaching all campaigns with fresh perspectives. Sometimes subtlety and innovation are better than shouting your message from the rooftop.

Does your social strategy answer ‘What’s in it for me?’

CheckNChewShort from Tyler DeAngelo on Vimeo.

“Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how,” Avinash Kaushik

There is some truth to what Avinash Kaushik said, but there are simple ways to garner success in social media marketing. Social media has been the hot topic in advertising over the last few years, because everyone wants to know how to use it effectively. Knowing how to use social media successfully is as simple as placing yourself in the shoes of your target audience.

The notion that having a page on Facebook means that people want to engage with your brand goes against the reason social media exists. Social media is inherently in itself social. Social media is conversations, community and self-expression. The brands that understand this idea have answered the question ‘What’s in it for me?’

The easiest way to answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ is to offer a reward. A restaurant wanted people to check in on Foursquare, so they offered a simple reward system: check in on Foursquare to receive a gumball. The concept of getting rewarded for something so simple has proved successful for their business.

You may think that someone would want to interact with your brand through social media, but that doesn’t mean they will. Answering ‘What’s in it for me?’ is the only way to have a shot at success, because this is the same question your target audience will be asking themselves before they click like on Facebook, reply to your Tweets or check into your business on Foursquare. This simple question can make or break a campaign.

There are countless examples of failed attempts at trying to make social media work for brands, but there are also triumphs that come from nothing. Many companies are finding success with different strategies, but it all stems back to the same question. Knowing why someone would want to interact with you on social media helps set the stage for an engaged community that is willing to listen to your message.

Ads For America

It’s that time a year again.  Barbecue’s are about to start grilling, fireworks are about to start painting the night skies, families are about to  head to their local ballpark to watch a game or park for a nice picnic, and parades and political speeches galore will be seen on your television.  Yes, it’s The Fourth of July, the USA’s independence day.  It’s a wonderful time to relax in the beautiful summer weather, and reflect and appreciate the opportunities and freedoms we are privileged to have here in the great nation of the United States of America.

However you plan to spend your Fourth of July, here at Bayard, we wanted to provide you with a variety of amusing advertisements that “Really Love America” provided by  Hope you enjoy them, and remember to have a wonderful holiday!

Dodge Challenger, “Freedom”

Here’s a clever take on a battle during the Revolutionary War.  I’m not sure how historically accurate it is though…… I thought George Washington rode a horse!

“Chevrolet, “Our Country”

This 2006 advertisement has a nice montage of many historical events and beautiful sites of America while John Mellencamp sings “Our Country” in the background.  Chevy does a nice job here portraying that Chevy is “part of American culture.”  See what events and sites you recognize in the commercial.

Brand USA, “Land of Dreams”

This past April, the USA launched this video to help promote oversees tourists to come see the beauties of our country.  It does a great job of showing the vast variety of landscapes that our massive country holds.

Anheuser-Busch, “Heroes Salute”

This 2005 ad was shown during the Super Bowl that year, and gave thanks to the troops that have continuously fought for our freedoms.

American Airlines, “Putting Them First”

Here’s another ad that thanks our troops launched in 2010 by American Airlines.  It is a powerful commercial that parallels how the airline puts the troops first, just like they put their country first.

Product Placement

Did you ever watch a movie or television show and realize that the character is using a product that you may use in your everyday life?  This could be anything from an iPod to a Subway sandwich.  There doesn’t seem to be anything odd about this, since we commonly use these products, and it can even make the show seem more authentic.  However, the director doesn’t just pick and choose what products he will include in his show, there is a whole process— product placement.  Product placement is a means of advertising where branded products and services are naturally placed into a show in order to promote the product.  For example, suppose there is a new action movie coming out with an awesome main character.  Coca-Cola may make a deal with the production company to have the character drinking a Coke instead of another branded beverage.  There hope is people will see this cool character drinking a Coke, so they will want to as well.  This whole process seemed fascinating, so we decided to take a deeper look into product placement and see what seemed interesting.


One of the earliest product placement examples is not in a movie, but a book.  Jules Verne, one of the most esteemed authors of the 1860’s and 1870’s wrote Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873.  Before it was published, transport and shipping companies asked to be mentioned in his story, which he agreed to.  However, it is unknown if he was actually paid for this act.  Product placement became more and more common as time went on, and adjusted to the changes in media.  Today, the most likely places to see product placements are in movies, television shows, and music videos.

Famous Product Placement Examples

Here is a list of the top ten product placements of all time taken from

No. 10 – Pepsi and Nike in Back to the Future

The Back to the Future trilogy is a comedic science fiction film series directed by Robert Zemeckis. Since it involves time travelling, it also presents an opportunity to showcase different brands in different time periods. Some brands, notably Pepsi and Nike, have embraced the opportunity and made examples of great product placement.

Some reports suggest that Zemeckis at first wanted to have Coca-Cola in the movie, but realized that Coca-Cola’s bottle was basically the same throughout the 20th century. So he approached Pepsi, which was willing to participate.

The trilogy begins in 1985 when Marty McFly is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a time machine built by eccentric scientist Emmett L. Brown, also known as “Doc”. The most interesting product placement occurred in the second movie, when Marty was sent to 2015. There he finds a Pepsi Perfect and special lace-free Nike shoes. In 2008 Nike made special limited edition Hyperdunk sneakers that were very similar to those from the movie. However, only about 1,000 pairs were made. Can we expect another model in four years time?

No. 9 – Apple iPad in Modern Family

I included iPad’s placement from the TV series Modern Family in 2010 overview as the best product placement of the year. It was awesome. The episode with iPad as a focal point of the story was aired just three days before the stores started selling Apple’s new gadget. The plot was flawless: the Dunphy family tried to buy their dad an iPad for his birthday, which coincided with the device’s launch day. Of course family members didn’t pre-order it, so they tried desperately to fulfill their father’s birthday wish.

Phil Dunphy is a bit of a geeky dad and calls himself an early adopter. The fact that iPad goes on sale on his birthday is an additional effect to his desire for it. He even said: “It’s like God and Steve Jobs got together to say ‘We love you, Phil!’”

The product was integrated in the plot; it was mentioned in different contexts, it was both shown and used on the screen, and definitely achieved the “I want to buy this product!” effect.


No. 8 – Ray Ban and US Navy in Top Gun

As I said in the blog post Product placement highlights – Ray-Ban Aviators in Top Gun had a huge impact on several generations on moviegoers. The movie included a handsome and fearless lead character, who not only defeated enemies in the air, but also won a heart of a beautiful woman. He was dressed in jeans, wore a leather jacket and a pair of sunglasses. And he rode a motorcycle and flew a military fighter. Beat that!

Ray-Ban and Tom Cruise previously cooperated in the movie Risky Business. In Top Gun he and his Navy colleagues wore Aviators. The result: the sales of Aviator sunglasses rose by 40 per cent in the seven months following the release of the movie.

Top Gun is an over-the-top patriot movie. Its producer, John Davis, stated that “Top Gun was a recruiting video for the Navy. It really helped their recruiting. People saw the movie and said, ‘Wow! I want to be a pilot.’” They were very successful. The US Navy set up recruiting booths in the major cinemas to try and catch some of the adrenaline charged guys leaving the screenings. They even stated that after the release of the movie the number of young men, who wanted to be Navy aviators, went up by 500 percent.

No. 7 – Reese’s pieces in E.T.

Reese’s Pieces is a Citizen Kane of product placement. This is one of the classic examples of successful product placement that was part of many marketing books, articles and blog posts. For a really top product placement you have to be involved in a successful movie or TV series. E.T. was a huge blockbuster.

This case became famous because there were two brands involved: the big M&M’s and a relatively unknown Reese’s Pieces. According to Jean-Marc Lehu’s book Branded Entertainment Steven Spielberg had initially made contact with the brand leader in the confectionery market, Mars, to ask permission to use M&M’s, but Mars declined the offer. Probably they’ve thought that it was not worthwhile. Spielberg then decided to film the scene with Reese’s Pieces from Mars’ competitor Hershey. When the movie was finished it was Spielberg who proposed a tie-in promotion to Hershey, which they accepted. Reese’s Pieces participated in the film’s launch campaign, investing $1 million and in return it was allowed to use the film in its advertising campaigns.

Reese’s Pieces had an important part of the story and are known as UFO’s candies. The success of that placement was huge — Reese’s Pieces saw a reported 65 per cent jump in profits just two weeks after the movie’s premiere.

No. 6 – Ray-Ban in Risky Business

I suppose Ray-Ban and Tom Cruise were a perfect match in the 1980s. Tom first wore Ray-Ban’s model Wayfarer in 1983 in comedy Risky Business and then Aviators in Top Gun in 1986.

Ray-Ban has been manufacturing Wayfarer model since 1952, when their design was a revolutionary break from the metal eyewear of the past. The model was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but then somehow faded from the limelight. Apparently annual sales were only about 18,000. But then something changed. In 1982 Ray-Ban signed a $50,000-a-year deal with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, to place Ray-Bans in movies and television shows.

Risky Business was the beginning of a Wayfarers phenomenon. Tom Cruise wore the model in the movie and they also put them on the cover of the movie. This product placement contributed to fantastic sales that year: 360,000 pairs of Wayfarers were sold in 1983. By 1986, after appearances in Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and The Breakfast Club, sales had reached 1.5 million.

No. 5 – FedEx in Cast Away

In Cast Away Tom Hanks is Chuck, a FedEx employee who is stranded on an uninhabited island after FedEx’s plane crashes on a flight over the South Pacific. The film shows his attempts to survive on the island using leftovers of his plane’s cargo, as well as his eventual escape and return to society.

That kind of placement can be a little extreme – you don’t really want the plane with your logo to crash into the ocean. FedEx’s placement was risky also because almost all cargo was lost, an employee opened several packages, even though he wasn’t authorized to do so (we have to admit that he was alone on a desert island) and one lost parcel was delivered with a very long delay. However, FedEx pulled it off brilliantly.

Gayle Christensen, director of global brand management at FedEx, said the scene in which the FedEx plane crashes into the ocean, stranding Hanks on a deserted island, gave the company “a heart attack at first.” FedEx admitted that they didn’t pay for product placement, although they provided logistical support for the movie. “The greatest impact for us was not in the U.S. since our brand awareness in the U.S. is very high,” said Christensen. “Where we did see a difference is offshore, in Asia and in Europe, where our brand awareness was not as high.”

No. 4 – Manolo Blahnik in Sex and the City

Manuel “Manolo” Blahnik Rodríguez is a 69-year old Spanish fashion designer and founder of the self-named, high-end shoe brand. He opened his first shop in 1973 by buying out an existing shop called Zapata in London’s Chelsea. In the last couple of decades several celebrities wore his shoes and Madonna even described them as “better than sex.”

Manolo Blahnik was sometimes described as the fifth lead in the TV series Sex and the City; mainly because of the sheer number of times his shoes were worn or mentioned by the Famous Four. In one scene in the Season 4 Carrie found a pair of black shoes and said: “Oh, my God! Do you know what these are? Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes. I thought these were an urban shoe myth!”

“I adore Ms. Parker,” Blahnik once revealed. “The character she played has had such a role in my career – I cannot help but regard both of them as muses!” However, in 2009 Blahnik revealed in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph “If people talk to me about Sex and the City, I get sick. The taxi drivers recognize me now. It becomes too much and I don’t feel comfortable. I have never wanted to be a celebrity designer.”

Nevertheless Carrie’s shoe obsession in Sex and the City helped catapult Manolo Blahnik to international fame, something all designers wish for.

No. 3 – Ford Mustang in Bullitt

I’ve started the blog post Product placement highlights – Ford Mustang in Bullitt with a question: “Which is the best and most famous car-chase scene of all time?” The answer: a 9 minute and 42-second drive through the hilly streets in and around San Francisco from the movie Bullitt. It includes Steve McQueen in 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 and two killers in a black Dodge Charger.

Ford Mustang was introduced in April 1964. It was stylish, elegant and affordable car. Ford estimated that they would sell around 80,000 Mustangs in its first year, but it sold more than a million in its first two years.

Bullitt premiered in 1968 and made history with the car-chase. It is intense, brilliantly executed and after all these years it still feels good when watching it. In 2001, Ford made a special version of its Mustang GT with the Bullitt nameplate and sold a total 5,582 cars. In 2007 they revealed a new version. Engineers modeled the car’s exhaust note on the engine sound heard in the original movie, based on a specially mastered DVD. To make it even more desirable, Ford decided to produce only 7,700 units (even though there were reports of 3,000 additional units due to the high demand).

Somehow I’d like to have a Mustang …

No. 2 – Kodak Carousel in Mad Men

To really understand this product placement you have to watch the first season of Mad Men, in my opinion one of the best TV series ever made. At the end of the last episode Don Draper has to present an idea for an ad for a new product to Kodak’s representatives. However, because of his issues with the late brother, his wife and his adultery; problems at the agency, he’s in a difficult state. But nevertheless Jon Hamm produced arguably the best few minutes in the history of television.

Kodak’s product placement had all elements of a great placement:

the product is mentioned;

the product is used;

the product is shown on screen;

the product is emotionally attached to the main character;

the product is used as a metaphor.

I’ll again use the words from one of my favorite TV critics Alan Sepinwall: “How freakin’ great was Don Draper’s sales pitch to the Kodak people? So great that he wowed the Kodak guys into cancelling their other pitches. So great that it made me want to invest in a slide projector even in this age of digital photography. So great that it sold Don himself on illusion of the happy life he appears to share with Betty.”

Kudos to Jon Hamm and Matt Weiner, the writer and executive producer, for creating this masterpiece.

No. 1 – Wilson in Cast Away

In my opinion there is only one product placement better than Kodak Carousel in Mad Men. The winner is Wilson from Cast Away.

I’ve mentioned several times there are three classic types of product placement. A product or brand can be visible, used or someone can mention it. But in the year 2000 we had an excellent example of a fourth type: a brand became the character.

When Chuck (Tom Hanks), the main character from the movie crashed on the island, he was there alone. But somehow he got company … from the unlikeliest source. When he opened boxes from the plane, he found Wilson volleyball. That ball eventually became “Wilson”, Chuck’s only company on the island. This product placement is very interesting and special for one particular reason: product was not just visible and used, and Chuck didn’t just speak about it – the product became a character. It “listened” and provided company to Chuck.

As a result of product placement Wilson Sporting Goods Company created a promotional ball, complete with the facial markings as seen in the film. Interestingly in 2011 you can still buy Wilson Castaway Volleyball from Amazon or Target.

Apparently Wilson didn’t pay for product placement and even if it happened coincidentally, if was perfect. In my opinion it’s the best product placement ever. Hanks’ and Wilson’s relationship was genuine and as a viewer I perceived Wilson as a character, not some branded product. From a brand’s point of view that’s even better than highly visible placement or heavy usage. And in case of Wilson it was for free.

The Intern’s Trip to Tennessee

When I asked for a couple of days off to go visit my mom in TN, I was told I could only go if I got some photos of authentic Tennesseean life. And oh, did I get some.

As a preface to my blog post, I actually really enjoy visiting TN, because it’s about as far (culturally) as you can get from Denver, and I always see interesting things. With that being said, anything I say is all in good fun, and if you’re from TN:

1. I’m sorry.

2. Don’t take anything personally. TN is a great state with lots of cool things to see and do!

We actually did lots of fun things while we were there, like horse back riding, ziplining, and of course plenty of hiking and driving around. One of the greatest things I did while there, though, was see synchronized fireflies. They only live in Tennessee and in Malaysia, coincidentally where both of my parents live! I’ve never seen them before, though, and I’m glad I had the chance to. Unlike normal fireflies, which all light up sporadically, synchronized fireflies will blink on and off for a few seconds, then all go completely dark for about 7 seconds. Then they all start to blink at the same time again. It’s amazing to see, especially when you’re in the middle of the woods and it looks like you’re surrounded by Christmas lights in every direction. I didn’t manage to get a good photo, but I included one from the internet so you could all see how beautiful it is.

Below I have a gallery of some of the photos I took while in TN. Feel free to click on the first one to start the gallery!