Brett Ratner backs 'organic' product placement

Director's consulting firm hired by Activision

NEW YORK -- Director Brett Ratner discussed the risky business of integrating brands into movies Thursday at an Advertising Week event focused on "consumer attention in a media-saturated world."

Using the example of his current "Beverly Hills Cop" project -- which Ratner said is "a huge priority for Paramount -- the director said that Eddie Murphy will need to drive a car in the film, and that he has to figure out which one. Rather than doing a deal with a car maker and trying to force its product into the story, Ratner said the process must work the other way around.

"What are my needs for the story?" he explained in describing his search for an organic solution. "What car do I need that can become a character in the movie?"

In another example, Ratner argued that forcing a soda bottle into a movie scene makes it seem like a prop and doesn't have any branding effect because viewers will block it out. "It must be a character embedded in the story," he said, recounting how he absolutely wanted a Porsche 928 as a younger man because it played a key role in "Risky Business."

The director also told the audience about the work of his firm Brett Ratner Brands, saying it too, tries to combine "creativity and connectivity" in an organic way.

For example, for his first client Activision, he created "Guitar Hero" commercials with the help of Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey, whom he has directed in music videos

Mandalay boss Peter Guber, who joined him on stage, agreed with Ratner's organic branding and marketing approach and also spent some time discussing digital media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Such tools can help marketers attract attention and turn it into intention, Guber argued. "Word of mouth is now a technological tsunami," he said, suggesting to entertainment and other marketers that they should focus on reaching their core audiences "and let them do the viral marketing" for you.