The positive effects of collaboration in brand integration

What’s the Story? is a storytelling video series dedicated to learning what truly makes a great story, told through the lens of the world’s talent and practitioners of the craft in entertainment, marketing and beyond.

Matt Miller, executive producer of Lethal Weapon on Fox, in many ways is just that. Over his esteemed career, he has shown his chops as a director, writer and, in a 1996 short called Understanding Olivia, got in front of the camera as an actor.

Imbued with an exciting energy and perspective, Miller has also been on the front line of shows like Las Vegas, Chuck and others — and has a deep appreciation and understanding of the importance of collaboration with brands.

On Lethal Weapon, like other shows, his experience with brands is overwhelmingly positive and he points to a healthy back and forth as key to a successful brand integration. This collaboration manifested itself recently with Microsoft, a show partner, as they filmed into the wee hours of the morning, sharing points of view to help shape a winning integration.

“We [have] a really good time working with them,” Miller says. “Sometimes they'll say, ‘Can this character do it?’ And we say, ‘Well, it maybe wouldn't make sense. What if this character does it?’ And that's almost always been something that was sufficient for them — or they counter-pitched, but it feels collaborative, when you both understand, ‘We want to get this product in the show. We want the money, and so how can we all make this work?’”

Lethal Weapon shoots in Los Angeles which, as Miller point out, is an expensive place to produce a show. Yet, he knows that a productive quid pro quo between creators and a brand can tick plenty of boxes, especially related to defraying some of the costs of production.

“I know what I'm getting into and I want to do it. It helps me. It helps the show” he says. “We do big stunts and things like that, and so if I'm weighing the benefit of, ‘Well, I get to flip a car in the middle of a freeway or jump off a building, but in so doing, earlier in the episode, I've got to feature this car or I've got to feature this Microsoft product,’ that's a total win for me, and I will figure out a way creatively where that makes sense.”

A master storyteller, Miller also knows what makes a great story and points to elements of surprise and “anything that engages your attention” including humor, suspense — anything that keeps you hooked to the end of the story.

To that end, he mentions the Harry Potter franchise as an incredible story that keeps both children and adults coming back for more.

“I think that's a really amazing contemporary story that [JK Rowling is] telling.”

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

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