Is your eyewear ready for a close-up?

Product placement has been a part of Hollywood ever since the Wells Fargo logo appeared on the side of a boxcar in the 1903 film “The Great Train Robbery.” Over the years, product placement has emerged into a major ingredient of branded marketing.

Since 1994, Jay May, founder and president of “Feature This” has worked with dozens of companies to get their brands exposure in film and television. He knows there is ample opportunity for eyewear companies to receive a starring role on screen. “Eyewear is one of the first things actors think about,” he says. “It enhances their look. People like to emulate their favorite celebrity. If actors wear it, people want it.”

One of May’s most successful clients has been Silhouette. Their minimalist frames grace the eyes of Tom Cruise in the film “Collateral,” Frances McDormand in “Something’s Gotta Give” (far right) and Lucy Liu in the film “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever” and, probably most notably, David Caruso in the CBS drama “CSI: Miami.”

Many times, a film will literally define and set a new trend in eyewear. He cites “Annie Hall,” “Men in Black” and “Risky Business” as the best examples of this powerful “starring” performance for glasses.

“The best product placement for eyewear is a signature style. It needs to be a unique design that will draw people’s attention even without a logo,” says May.

Unlike other types of product placement, eyewear can’t be digitally altered or removed. Once worn by an actor, it becomes a permanent fixture on screen with lasting impressions for future generations of viewers. According to May, this is one advantage of product placement over traditional marketing methods.

“With a print ad, you might get up to three exposures and then it goes away,” he says. “Product placement has a lasting value. A film will outlast your grandson’s great-great grandson. Think of Macy’s in ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’”  

—Jeff Haber