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Turning Brands Into Film Stars

Director Brett Ratner explains the Dos and Don'ts.

Director Brett Ratner discussed the risky business of integrating brands into movies Thursday, using his current Beverly Hills Cop project as an example.

"It's a huge priority for Paramount," he said. Eddie Murphy will need to drive a car in the film, and Ratner said he has to figure out which one. Rather than doing a deal with a car maker and trying to force the product into the story, Rattner said the process must work the other way around. "What are my needs for the story?" he said in describing his search for an organic solution. "What car do I need that can become a character in the movie?"

Ratner was speaking at an Advertising Week event in New York on the topic of "consumer attention in a media-saturated world." He argued that forcing a soda bottle into a movie scene makes it seem like a prop and yields no branding effect because viewers block it out. "It must be a character embedded in the story," he said, recounting how he wanted a Porsche 928 as a young man because it played a key role in Risky Business.

The director told the audience that his firm, Brett Ratner Brands, 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, for whom he directed music videos.

Mandalay boss Peter Guber, who joined him on stage, agreed with Ratner's organic approach to branding and marketing and spent 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.

— Nielsen Business Media