Media Musing: The 5 Most Influential Companies You’ve Never Heard Of

5.) Independent Studio Services

Ever felt like you could really go for a nice cold Heinsler or a HaberKern. How about a smooth Clermont Whiskey? If so, you’ve ever wanted Farm Fresh Milk in your Crispy Puffs and a tall glass of 25th Anniversary Orange Juice then you’ve noticed the products of Independent Studio Services. ISS provides a fairly simple service. They make fake brands that look like real ones. It’s hard to make agreements for product placement and advertising with every single product. ISS fills in the gaps with their various designs. If your movie looks a little bland in the background they can add splashes of color. If the production company doesn’t have the rights to say, Sports Illustrated why not just have the actor read Sports Limited magazine

. Kate Upton Sports Illustrated

I’ll still take the original

Their products are so convincing that “Is Heisler Beer real” is a pretty common google search. You can find their products in literally hundreds different shows and movies. On top of a wide array of recognizable consumer brands they carry the largest supply of prop weapons of any other company. Laws were actually made about their realistic $100 bills for being too realistic. ISS made the $1 billion dollars that were blown up in the end of Rush Hour 2. The bills were spent by extras and eventually recalled by the Secret Service. Their fake product placement has been so present in the media that they’ve built a veritable empire around it. And speaking of product placement…

4.) Product Placement agencies

The role of product placement is a somewhat controversial topic for artistic purists, but it’s not going anywhere. Most people assume that it is done through the companies that appear on screen. While this is sometimes true, there are also mega-gigantic agencies that split burden in a several-ways monopoly. The industry is dominated Rodgers & Cowan, Vista GroupThe Marketing Arm, Norm Marshall & Associates, and Global Entertainment Marketing. The people involved in the process do their best to incorporate their client’s wares in into the most appropriate areas of a film. They are actually masters at this specific craft.  Good product placement is even awarded by websites.

There is actually a Wayne’s World award

However you feel about advertising in movies, it’s a very prevalent part of our culture and is a multibillion dollar industry every year in America. Those six companies are at the helm of hugely important industry in the media. They the most prominent in a gigantic industry, that makes its money for not being noticed. Their talent for fading into the background would actually explain why most of us have never heard of them.

3.) Reel Scout

Location scouting is a complex art, that is totally vital to the film or TV making process. Reel Scout is among the most prominent in their industry. While certain sets are reused for different movies, finding the right location for a movie can sometimes be an exhaustive process. A borderline madman, Stanley Kubrick was known for being a perfectionist for his sets just like he was for everything else. He once had an assistant take pictures of front doors all over Inglewood, England to find the perfect “hooker door” for Eyes Wide Shut. He was similarly obsessed with the sets for all of his movies include Full Metal Jacket and The Shining. He was so aware of the importance of background that he had the sets and props of 2001 destroyed so they would remain unique to his work. (more of his madness can be seen in Jon Ronson’s Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes or in the interview he had with Kubrick’s assitant which was published in his collection Lost at Sea). Kubrick alone proves that finding the right location is an art form to itself. Outside of crazy people, Real Scout has tried to make films more accessible to the average viewer. Having the largest database of locations makes this a little easier. In essence RS is responsible for making films seem more real.

Star Wars Tattooine Set

Not always a lasting art

2.) CMG World Wide

While they don’t represent the most relevant celebrities, CMG world wide has quite the impressive stable of clients. As far as talent agencies go the agency, specifically Mark Roessler represents dead famous people. To be specific, the deadest most famous you can think of. Andre The Giant, Marilyn Monroe, Mark Twain, the phrase “let’s get ready to rumble,” General George S. Patton, and Chuck Berry are all clients along with a whole shit load of other people. If you’ve ever wondered who makes money off of licensed slot machinesbobble-heads, or  the “I Heart New York” tee shirts then look no further than CMG.

Marilyn Monroe

Someone’s making serious scratch off this crap

With a reputation for ruthlessness this firm has cornered the market on dead, very famous people. Most of the ultra famous dead chose to go with CMG. No other company boasts as impressive of a stable as they do. This is true even when considering clients they don’t currently represent but have in the past like Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Babe Ruth. the industry is growing because of this agency’s popularity and their client base has suffered somewhat. They have however, brokered more than 200 deals with the US postal service and run websites whose networks get 15 million hits a day.While they also are in charge of some live people Mark Roessler is the head of the division that handles the deceased. He alone is in charge of hundreds of millions in merchandising and licencing. His job at this point is easier than making a teenager cry, because clients come to him. In a 60 Minutes interview, Roessler makes himself seem like a sort of Robin Hood. Since he effectively invented the industry, he feels like he has rescued the birth (death?) rights of those people whose celebrity was earning their families no money at all before he came along. Roessler’s company invented, and fought for the right to represent estates of dead celebrities and his company is the top earner in the business.

1.) Industrial Light and Magic

There are big behind-the-scenes companies, then there’s ILM. No special effects company has done more for the industry than the brain child of George Lucas. On top of creating the first CGI character and sequence  they invented a whole shit load of other stuff. Their relevance cannot be understated. In the last year alone they did special effects for The Hunger Games, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, and The goddamned Avengers. Their dozens Oscar nominations and wins seem  almost incidental when you consider all of their achievements. Even their website seems more like a fascinating work of minimalist art. With their partner Skywalker Sound ILM has practically invented the computer generated special effects industry. Their innovations have been both impressive and instantly recognized as instances of “holy-fuckery” brilliance.

Psudopod The Abyss

You gotta start somewhere

If you’re the type of person who already knew about ILM, and are screaming “I’ve already heard of them, dickbag,” then you can fuck yourself for calling me names. The fact is that as a behind the scenes company they make every one of their innovations without the kind of credit that actors and directors get. Now that they have been bought by Disney with the rest of Lucasfilm, it’s likely that their unsung-ness will only increase that status when they’re swallowed by that rolling behemoth of an empire.


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