Have you seen even more BabyBjörns on your screen(s) than usual lately? And did you happen to notice that they’re approximately four times more likely to appear on men than on women? In case you were wondering, this is not an accident—it’s successful PR. The product has been around since 1973, but its pop culture ubiquity is more recent–and its power has grown so great that when Ellen Degeneres needed a baby carrier for the 2007 Oscars, there was no doubt about which brand she would use.
Today New York magazine’s Libby Copeland brings us the fascinating tale of the Swedish slingmaker’s brilliant product placement strategy. In summary, it would appear that Björn’s secret sauce is one Caressa Lupold, branded integration expert at Norm Marshall & Associates.
The unwritten rules of the TV universe tell us that every sitcom must use the “awkward dudes with infants” gag at least once. Lupold has made BabyBjörn the go-to brand for that all-too-common joke by “[making] friends with writers, producers, and especially prop masters”, keeping up with top shows’ current plot lines and “gauging the status of pregnant characters”–in other words, through old-fashioned legwork, networking and market research.
Sometimes she has to get a little more aggressive by scanning scripts for “chances to turn ‘stroller opportunities into carrier opportunities’” (we love that line). She also has to make sure that the product is used correctly whenever it shows up onscreen, lest consumers think that this particular toddler sash is anything less than the safest one on the market. She even has to shoot down writers who want to use her client’s product in less-than-flattering ways.
BabyBjörn tops the market now, but will its saturation dry up? Will the joke ever get old? Was “Three Men and a Baby” the biggest box office hit of 1987? (Hint: that’s a yes.)