The Eco Props Company Subliminally Encouraging Audiences to Go Green

Courtesy of Green Product Placement
A water bottle from Green Product Placement in a scene from "Big Little Lies'

New York-based company Green Product Placement has announced a new advisory board including Emily Deschanel, Tim Guinee, Lesley Chilcott, Llew Wells and Ali Selim.

While the average rate for a 30-second commercial on primetime lands somewhere between $1,666 and $3,333 per second, according to the New York-based company Green Product Placement, the influence of product props also can effectively (and more affordably) influence buying decisions. Specializing in eco-friendly, local and socially enterprising merch for props and wardrobe, the seven-year-old company founded by onetime set dresser Beth Bell has created a niche to help spread a green message on film and television.

"Groups like the UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme] recommend that how you jump sustainable behavior is through association with celebrity and making these sorts of products and behaviors the norm, which dovetails nicely with how product placement actually works on unconscious decision-making and brand awareness," Bell tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Actors and actresses have agents, and basically we are the agents for brands."

This month, the brand has announced a new advisory board, including actress and animal rights activist Emily Deschanel; actor-director and environmentalist Tim Guinee; producer-director Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth); director Ali Selim; producer Llew Wells; and Ted Turner's philanthropist grandson John Rutherford Seydel.

"We only have so much time to save the planet, and putting products out there that are better for the environment is one way to 'normalize' eco-friendly choices," Deschanel told THR. "If you see characters you like using something, then you naturally will be more inclined to buy that next time you are shopping. It is all about making better choices for the earth and making it fun and cool and exciting."

"It is morally incumbent on every sector of society to respond to the Climate Crisis," added Guinee. "As someone who has spent his life in the entertainment industry, I am keenly aware of the effect we can have in shaping public opinion. That should never be taken lightly. And so, I am profoundly grateful to be part of the work that Green Product Placement is doing and helping create a culture in which the use of responsible products becomes the norm."

Wells said, "Getting exposure in media for leading green and sustainable products is essential to growing the markets for these products. GPP identified a niche and jumped in with an exciting and viable platform for making this happen."

The concept for the company was sparked when Bell noticed a Facebook post by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who had just released the ultimate 2011 product placement film, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, announcing that he was going to be talking about that film on Ted.com. So she asked him, "Surely by now there has got to be one agency that is repping natural brands, right?" After some back and forth, Spurlock responded, "I think you found your next career :)." Bell calls it a "lightbulb, skies parting, angels singing kind of moment."

The company has placed its brands in more than 400 productions to date, including HBO's Big Little Lies, Veep, Silicon Valley and Divorce; Netflix's House of Cards, Grace and Frankie and Orange Is the New Black; Bravo's Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce; USA Network's Suits; NBC's Blindspot and more.

The setting of Silicon Valley particularly lent itself to the props. "We've worked with them for several seasons and ended up in the final cut with many of our brands, because obviously, a bunch of techie Silicon Valley people are going to have coconut milk in the fridge or repurposed compostable cups in the coffee area," says Bell.

Other props with "behavioral influence," according to Bell, include a sustainable Greenstar bamboo bicycle hanging on the wall at Edgar Reade's apartment season after season on Blindspot; a Full Circle Home compost bin featured during a refrigerator-cleaning scene in A Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce; and a reusable water bottle that Bonnie pulls out of the kitchen fridge for a drink after a run during a scene in Big Little Lies.

The company had its hand in the folate that Claire takes from the medicine cabinet, in the "a-ha" moment alluding to her pregnancy on House of Cards, the Derma E skin-care products on Grace and Frankie, and the manuka honey drops in Piper's brother's kitchen in Orange Is the New Black. Bell is called upon to stock grocery stores or provide ads on buses and billboards.

Over time, product placement can generate millions of impressions. "Think of a show like Friends; kids are still watching it and it has just had a resurgence," says Bell, "In that way, product placement keeps on giving, whereas if an influencer places a brand in a story, it's gone in three days."

Maybe a reason why that brand of vitamins in the grocery aisle looks vaguely familiar, catapulting it above other options and into the cart.