With appearances in Sicario, Ozark, Silicon Valley, The Haunting of Hill House, Transformers: The Last Knight, Speechless, and Extinct or Alive, among others, FLIR is more than familiar with the on-screen close-up.
The thermal imaging tech company, which employs approximately 450 of its 3,000 employees in Goleta, uses product placement as an important part of its marketing strategy. “We really approach placement in a collaborative way,” said Vatche Arabian, director of content marketing. “While some companies may actually go out and buy a placement on a show, we don’t typically do that. Often, it’s cases where folks want to achieve something unique, and we partner with them to help them do that.”
Of course, sometimes opportunity just knocks. “The crazy, last-minute ones are the ones that we seem to get the biggest lift out of,” said Arabian, referring to the 2017 VMA performance of 30 Seconds to Mars, in which actor/musician Jared Leto wanted to do the thing with thermal cameras. “We had maybe a week-and-a-half notice for that one. Trying to realize what they were trying to do and find the best way to do that was terrifying, but then the end result was amazing.”
FLIR cameras were also used on the two Sicario movies. “In the tunnel, when it’s in thermal vision, we worked with Roger Deakins to have him use the FLIR science camera, and he couldn’t have told that story without it,” said Stacy Jones, CEO and founder of Hollywood Branded, the marketing agency that works with FLIR. “They were in a pitch-black tunnel, and he was trying to actually show what it is like for the military and for those people who were running from across the border.”
In the movie Rampage, FLIR provided a pilot and its plane, fully kitted out with all the FLIR technology, usually reserved for large-scale demonstrations of their product line to military or government buyers. “There was a fictional big quarry scene,” said Jones. “It existed, but they made it look way bigger than it was through movie magic. And they had the plane sweeping over it, filming in thermal and feeding a livestream down to the director at the same time, so they could get the vision and the day scenes and the night scenes and the thermal all captured while the big ravaging beast that they put in later on was able to storm in with special effects.”
Product placement works best on-screen when it’s helping to tell the story, said Jones, who founded her agency in 2007, with BlackBerry as her first client. “Technology is something that is a great storyteller when it’s contributing to who the character is, to driving a story element, and contributing to making that scene more real,” she explained.
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