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Hilton Hawaiian brand integrates with ‘Five-0’

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Hilton Hawaiian Village and its Tropics Bar & Grill not only served as backdrops and locations for scenes in Monday’s "Hawaii Five-0" episode, they were mentioned in the script.

Product placement is one thing, but geez Louise, how much did that cost?

"That’s done through corporate," said Cynthia Rankin, regional director of public relations for Hilton. It is unlikely corporate will release the amount, "but I can tell you there are going to be more branding elements, on both sides," she said.

Meaning, we will see more Hilton Hawaiian Village in "Hawaii Five-0," and Hilton guests will see more "Hawaii Five-0"-branded items, such as the complimentary "Hawaii Five-0" ringtone cards at select Hilton properties through Nov. 5, the signature "Hawaii Five-0" cocktail and "Book ’em Danno" mocktail, for starters.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts will mark its 50th anniversary in Hawaii next year — "year Five-0" as it was called in a news release, so the show presents a no-brainer of an integrated marketing opportunity.

It’s far from organic, but it’s not the late 1960s anymore and a national TV show with a global audience waiting in the wings is big business.

"As our brand approaches the 50th anniversary of its presence on the Hawaiian islands, we are thrilled that Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, one of our signature Hilton resorts, appears in this new show," said Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, in a statement. Expect the two brands to be very visibly integrated, but also expect the people behind the show to fight to keep its integrity.

The Blue Hawaii cocktail, which hotel officials assert was originated on-premises, also was featured prominently in Monday’s episode. You gotta wonder, though, how many local braddahs would actually be hanging at Tropics with one of those in front of him, as was actor Kala Alexander, who played Kawika, head of "Kapu," the sorta-kinda gang leader but also spiritual protector of the island. He would more likely be elsewhere, and the beverage in front of him would likely be contained in a green bottle. Just sayin’.

Local people watch for authenticity and do location-spotting during "Five-0" episodes, so the "flip-flops" reference generated voluminous amounts of talk, much of it griping.

Show star and local resident Daniel Dae Kim posted on Twitter to quell the criticism.

"4THE RECORD I pushed to say ‘slippers.’ I even recorded a take saying it, but consider WHY ‘flip flops’ was used before you hate. #H50," he said.

Co-executive producer Peter Lenkov also chimed in. "For the record: DDK did push for ‘slipper.’ I changed it to ‘flip flops’ so mainlanders wouldn’t think bedtime shoes."

Rankin, of Hilton, also noted that the show eventually will be translated into 200 different languages. The 1 million potential viewers among Hawaii residents are outnumbered by the potential global audience of billions.

With more location shooting scheduled on-property as soon as Friday, Rankin is hopeful the resort and members of the Unite Here Local 5 union can "come to an agreement soon."

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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