Product placement can be a powerful digital marketing tool for brands. Whether it is paid or unpaid, product placement can do wonders for brand awareness and often correlates with spikes in sales. Of course, there are rare cases of negative product placement, i.e. Crock-Pot in This Is Us. Unlike newer methods of digital marketing like social media, product placement has been in use for a long time. They vary in subtlety and exposure, but a good product placement makes its mark in the feature without being laughably obvious (peep #10).
Take a look at some of my favorite product placements in a mix of film and television, old and new.
1. Stranger Things: Eggos
If Eleven doesn’t convince you to buy some Eggos, then I don’t know what will. She smashed a lot of things and committed a crime to get them, so maybe they’re worth trying.
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Reese’s Pieces
This is an emotional pairing for me because I am simultaneously so afraid of E.T. and love Reese’s Pieces. This is an early example from 1982, and it was definitely not Spielberg’s last product placement.
3. Top Gun: Ray-Ban Aviators
We have a lot of things to thank this movie for, namely the iconic beach volleyball scene. But Aviators and bomber jackets are not forgotten. Cheers to you, Tom.
4. Castaway: Wilson
This unpaid product placement became a gold mine for Wilson, and they even released their own volleyball design with the red handprint to match the movie. The relationship between Wilson the washed up volleyball and Tom Hanks in Castaway will pull at your heartstrings. Name a better duo. I’ll wait.
5. Modern Family: Apple
In an interesting move by co-creator of the show, Steve Levitan, he decided to film an entire episode with Apple devices. He stated that the choice was not paid for by Apple and was purely an artistic move. We’re just supposed to believe that so…sure.
6. Back to the Future Part 2: Nike
When you want your brand to be cutting edge, what better way than to make shoes for the future? Nike featured its classic designs in the 1980s portion of the film as well as the futuristic 2015 design above, and you know, it really wasn’t all that far off.
7. Fight Club: Starbucks
First rule of fight club: You do not talk about fight club. Second rule of fight club: You DO NOT talk about fight club. People don’t really remember the third and fourth rule. The fifth rule on the other hand, was created by and for Director David Fincher. He challenged himself to put a Starbucks cup in every frame of the movie. I’d call him basic if it weren’t done to emphasize the company’s ever-present influence in world culture and globalization.
8. James Bond (Goldfinger): Aston Martin DB5
This car brand and model have forever been linked to James Bond’s iconic character. Sean Connery sold the car with his performance as the smooth-talking, debonair British secret agent.
9. Parks and Recreation: Kaboom!
Was anyone else floored when they found out that “Kaboom!” is a real business? He may be the only man who can match Leslie Knope’s enthusiasm, and that Britney Spears mic only sells his brand more.
10. Bones: Toyota
This was definitely not the most exciting picture I could have chosen, but it just goes to show how blatant and drab this product placement is in Bones. Please watch this very real clip of characters discussing the self-park feature of this car. This is an ode to car product placements past, present, and future. Absolutely cringy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDe9_c8QAM0
Surprised by any of these product placements? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to suggest any you think deserve to be on the list.
Erik. “Top 40 Product Placements of All Time: 10-1.” Brands&Films, 13 Jan. 2011, brandsandfilms.com/2011/01/top-40-product-placements-of-all-time-10-1/.
France, Lisa Respers. “’Modern Family’ Airs Apple-Centric Episode.” CNN, Cable News Network, 26 Feb. 2015, www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/entertainment/modern-family-apple-feat/index.html.
Gragert, Anna. “Did You Notice This Prop in Every Single ‘Fight Club’ Scene?” HelloGiggles, 1 Sept. 2015, hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/food-drink/prop-no-one-noticed-fight-club/.