A Product Placement Story
Photo above: I have several still photos and other items from the movies and shows my products appeared in, but unfortunately I am not able to share them, like this copy of the movie script.
Sometimes success happens because of a series of accidents, luck and random contact. In this case, it was a happy mix of my ham radio hobby, my employer and my friends in the movies and television business.
One of my early employers was a manufacturer of consumer electronic equipment that included a niche market product line called amateur radio. This was a great experience for me, and I always thought I was uniquely qualified for the job, since my background included the technical hobby of ham radio and working as a public information officer at the non-profit organization for ham radio operators in the United States.
The company was the premier brand at the time, and I enjoyed my position of sales manager for the USA market. I did my best to make the brand as visible as possible, and often took ham radio equipment with me to international vacations, adding a different element of work-related recreation only fellow ham radio operators would understand: Radio contesting. Today, this is called being a brand ambassador. Back then, I was just taking the opportunity to use, test and enjoy the radio equipment the company made – just like one of the thousands of our customers would do. My best radio contesting memories are the times I operated from Barbados, with my friend Dean St Hill.
One day, I received a sales inquiry from the telephone receptionist. It started as a routine question and answer session about our two-way radios and how they worked, like “How far can we talk on these things” and so on.
I had to remind the caller this is amateur radio equipment and not a Citizen’s Band (CB) radio, and although he could buy these radios at any of our dealerships, a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was needed to transmit (talk). (Receiving – listening - does not require a license.)
This is when the conversation changed. I found out he heard about me from a mutual friend, another ham radio operator. The person making the inquiry was looking for props for an upcoming movie. I reminded the person a license is still required to operate the units, and they are not to be used for “business communication.”
That did not seem to matter, the person assured me that the radios would be modified to disable the transmit function, and there may be “some other changes” made to the units. I figured this would not matter too much. I focused on the free publicity this would generate.
Although the radios in the movie were not used in a technically correct manner, the brand name and the radios used in the movie are clearly marked and visible. That was fun to see. No credits or acknowledgements were given in the movie, but I thought that was still okay.
After that movie was completed, several more opportunities rolled in. My company’s radio props can be seen in several movies and television series in the 1980s and 1990s, such as the movie “Free Willie” and the television series “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”
I still enjoy seeing the company’s radio products in those movies and TV shows. It reminds me of how important friendships and referrals can be, and how important it is to make sure you know your network and they know you. And the last and most fun part: How wonderful working with personal passions can be.
About Wayne Yoshida
Wayne Yoshida is a technical writer and education advocate with sales management experience. Wayne currently works in the alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) industry and has worked for a wide variety of high technology companies, including aerospace and defense, photonics, lasers and opto-mechanics, two-way radio, telecommunications and a non-profit, educational organization. His personal passion for electronics and Amateur Radio opened many doors to some very interesting personal and professional experiences. Working as a ham radio consultant for the NASA Johnson Space Center during Space Shuttle mission STS-9 is his most memorable experience. Connect with him on LinkedIn and beBee, and for a look into his personal passions, follow his blog.