Product Placement Galore

Product placement, also referred to as embedded marketing, is a type of advertising where branded products causally “pop up” in film and television. Sometimes the product is part of the story, sometimes it’s simply a logo or a sign or billboard in the distance.

Surely you’ve spotted Coca Cola cups on American Idol, and repeatedly heard Carrie Bradshaw gush over Manolo Blahnik shoes in Sex and The City. However the practice of strategic product placement is hardly a newfangled exploit. Advertisers have been doing it for years!

FUN FACT: The 1927 Oscar Winner for Best Picture, Wings, featured a pretty obvious plug for Hershey’s chocolate, which reportedly boosted the candy brand’s sales in the weeks and months to come.

In honour of the Oscars (because hey, everyone else is still talking about them, and, like, how cuuuuute Jennifer Lawrence is…) we decided we would do a little round up of our team’s favourite product placements in film.

And so, without further adieu, the most shameless, or effective, or hilarious product placements in the pictures:

The product: Wayfarer for Ray-Bans
The film: Risky Business
The story: Tom Cruise sported Wayfarers in the 1983 movie Risky Business, basically catapulting the style into the mainstream. Subsequently, 360,000 pairs were sold that year.By 1986, after appearances in Miami Vice, The Breakfast Club, and a few other blockbuster hits, sales had reached 1.5 million.Oddly, the dress-shirt-sock-and-bare-man-leg look did not see such success.

The product: Popeye’s Chicken
The film: Little Nicky
The story: There really is no story here. Just Adam Sandler, dressed as Lucifer’s son, talking like Adam Sandler likes to talk in most movies, eating lots of fried chicken from Popeye’s. According to Sandler, this particular brand of chicken is the shiznit. Why not KFC? The Colonel does not make deals with the devil.

The product: .44 Magnum handgun
The film: Dirty Hairy
The story: When Clint Eastwood says something, dammit, you listen. In one of the most famous scenes in film to date, Mr. Eastwood launches into one of his mostly widely referenced speeches. It is here that he changed the lives of gun-touting lunatics around the world.  I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”  Well? Do ya?

The product: Reese’s Pieces
The film: E.T.
The story: What’s the best way to launch your new product onto the shelves of every convenience store in North America? Feature them in one of the biggest movies of all time. In 1982, Steven Spielberg made E.T., which was quickly received by rave reviews. Not only did it kick off Drew Barrymore’s career, it made Reese’s Pieces a household name. Elliott and his alien took a particular liking to the small peanutbuttery treats, and so did the audience.  We still eat Reese’s Pieces today. But we gave up on Drew somewhere around 50 First Dates

The product: Mini Cooper
The film: The Italian Job
The story: Previous to seeing this movie, most of us born in and around the 90’s had never really seen a Mini Cooper, and if we had, we surely didn’t associate it with high-speed car chases and organized crime. However, in the memorable chase scene that closes out the 2003 hit, the three leads are spotted zipping around in the Mini Cooper. Why? It was an homage to the original. Indeed, this odd looking, boxy British automobile was featured in the original 1969 film. True story.

The product: Suntory Whiskey
The film: Lost In Translation
The story: The reason why this was a particularly effective use of product placement is because, before the release of Sofia Coppola’s second feature film, not many of us had heard of Suntory. Bob Harris, played by Bill Murray, flies to Japan to film a commercial for the whiskey brand that, to this day, remains one of the most popular in Japan. A film… about a commercial… that becomes it’s own two hour commercial… while still being a super wicked film! Genius!

What is your favourite example of product placement in film? Let us know in the comment section below!

  • casiestewart

    I have always been fascinated by product placement in film. I enjoyed watching all the recent placement in House of Cards. There’s one scene where a cereal box gets prime retail and I could think about was, “I wonder how much that cost?”.

    • Mia

      And all I could think of was… damn, I want a bowl of cereal.

  • Bondage

    How did you not mention the Bond movies? Those are the craziest product placement movies around.

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