Product Placement in the Film Industry Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 November 2016

Product Placement in the Film Industry

Product placement in Movies

Product placement is a kind of advertisements, where products or services are placed in a context normally devoid of ads, such as films, TV episodes, or news. Product placement can reach a niche audience, and there are strong reasons for investors to expect that film product placement will increase consumer awareness of a particular brand. However, the movie studio must analyze if the product fits with the image of the film. A star may draw more attention than a product. Therefore this becomes a separate point of negotiation within his contract in many cases.

Brand placements are for increasing brand familiarity and sales. Also, there are some other advantages of brand placements in Movies.

1. People would not change the channel or leave room when a brand appears in a movie like they might for TV ads 2. Brand placements often involve an endorsement by the celebrity using the brand which appears to have an influence on attitudes toward the brand. 3. Brand placement allows advertisers to target very specific people. 4. Brand placements have a longer life than traditional advertisements. When a film is released as DVD, the brand placement is still present. 5. Audiences might like brand placements because they improve the realism of a movie or TV show. Literature review: Some examples

Product placement is not a recent phenomenon as commonly believed, but dates back to the earliest days of cinema. It originated more than a century ago in “soap opera” radio broadcasts, a significant means of popular entertainment at the time which often mentioned various soap products within the storyline in exchange for financial support. Here we have some classic examples of product placement in movies. They are all famous films with successful product.

Ray Ban: Top Gun

Screen shot of the movie: Top Gun(1986)

Top Gun had a huge impact on some generations. The movie had a handsome and fearless main character. He not only defeated enemies in the air, but also won the heart of a beautiful lady. He was dressed in jeans, wore a leather jacket and a pair of sunglasses. In Top Gun, Tom Cruise and his Navy colleagues wore Aviators by Ray Ban. The result: the sales of Aviator sunglasses rose by 40 percent in the seven months following the release of the movie. FedEx and Wilson: Cast away

Screen shots of the movie: Cast Away (2000)

Tom Hanks played Chuck in the movie Cast Away. Chuck is a FedEx employee who is stranded on an island after FedEx’s plane crashes. The film shows his attempts to survive on the island using what was left of his plane’s cargo. He eventual escapes and returns to society, with one lost parcel delivered with a very long delay. When Chuck crashed on the island, he was there alone. But somehow he got company from the resource left. When he opened boxes he found Wilson volleyball. That ball became “Wilson”, Chuck’s only friend on the island. This product placement is very special: product was not just “used”, and Chuck didn’t just speak about it – the product becomes a character. Chuck and Wilson’s relationship was great and audiences perceived Wilson as a character, not some brand product.

Chevrolet Camaro: Transformers

Screen shot of the movie: Transformers (2007)

Chevrolet Camaro is a very interesting placement in the Transformers. Camaro played Bumblebee in all the Transformers movies. The fifth generation of this vehicle went on sale in the beginning of 2009. In 2007, when the movie was released, people could not buy this car. It was a long wait but the movie created a buzz and helped building the expectations. Successful and failure attempts of product placement

A successful product placement should have 2 sides of success:

The product is good for the movie: The used product should be a main character in the film. It should be “needed” in the film, not “planted”.

The movie is good for the product: The movie is good for showing the product. The product and the brand value is showed properly in the films. The product for the movie

Is the product good for the movie? Why this is on the screen?

The product or brand showed in the films should be very important for the movie. Audiences try to keep a story coherent while watching it. However, because of limited attention, information in the center activates the highest [1].This is quite easy to understand. We are watching a movie with the story. Anything happened in this story would be noticed. The product in the story and in the center of the screen gets the highest attention. On the other hand, all the objects outside the story are being ignored if they don’t try to get any attention. Audiences might be confused if something unrelated suddenly showed in the center of the screen, or make some noise when audience are watching a film.

Here are two examples for the good side and the bad side.
Example of success: Mini cooper and the Italian job

In the movie, the robbers need to drive into the metro station, block the train and go through the tunnels. The use of Minis seemed absolutely normal for a robbery, since Mini Cooper is a very compact and mobile car. The audiences are expecting some vehicle accomplish the job, and here comes the minis. The car is tiny, fast and reliable. The product is going well with the story, so we can enjoy the movie with starring performance of the product-Mini Cooper.

Screen shots of the movie: the Italian Job (2003)

The Italian Job original movie is released in 1969 with. Gary Gray directed an American remake with Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron in 2003. The movies are very similar from the product placements points of view: they both use Minis. Product placement is apparently very is reported that sales of Minis in 2003 had increased more than 20 percent over the year before.

Example of failure: China Mobile and the Cellphone

With the title of this movie, we can imagine that it is a perfect opportunity for a communication company such as China Mobile to do a product placement in it. However, the shameless attempt made audience feel bad when watching such a wonderful movie.

Screen shot of the movie: the Cellphone (Shou Ji) (2003)

The main character YAN Shouyi’s wife received a phone call from Shouyi’s cousin. She found that Shouyi was cheating on her. This is the moment she
hang up the phone.

Normally we need some music with anger or helpless or sad music. Silence is also a good choice we may expect. However, after she hang up the phone and walked away, the television (left side of the picture) is showing the commercial advertisement of China mobile. The audience could hear nothing but the slogan of China Mobile. We got confused: why we are listening to this?

Screen shot of the movie: the Cellphone (Shou Ji) (2003)

Another screen shot of the movie the Cellphone. Two wives are checking their husband’s calling records. We could find the logo of China mobile in the center of the screen, but we cannot notice it because the logo is outside the story. This is a very bad try of product placement: the product has nothing to do with the story.

Screen shot of the movie: the Cellphone (Shou Ji) (2003)

China mobile tried very hard to place its logo everywhere in this movie. But most of the attempts have no advisement effect. In the beginning of the movie, the cast list is showed on a cellphone. The Chinese character of China Mobile is showed at the bottom of the cellphone. Normally, the communication operator showed at the up corner of the cellphone. We could say that this try is not a product placement, but an advertisement. The movie for the product

Marketing, including the product placement, is a process of communicating product value to the people. So in the product placement the company need also choose the right movie for its products. The movie has to be a platform for the company’s brand value. The brand behavior or the brand value is needed to be showed in the scene. So the main problem becomes how to choose the partner.

Here we have another example to find out how to show the brand value in a movie. In 2001 and 2002, BMW made a series of eight short films with about 10 minutes each. The series is called the Hire. All the eight films are made by popular directors from all over the world, starring Clive Owen as the “Driver”, and with the performance of various BMW cars.

At first, here is the official brand value of BMW:

Brand value of BMW

The main value of BMW “joy” and dynamic, challenging, cultured is showed everywhere in these films. We discuss how the films describe BMW with the 8 short films. Here we present 2 of the short films to show the how BMW did the films.


Chosen, Ang Lee 2001

The Driver protects a holy child that was brought to America by boat. The child gives the Driver a gift but says that he is supposed to open it after. After being pursued by many armed men, and being grazed in the ear, he delivers the boy to another holy man. The Boy however signals silently to the Driver that the man is not actually a monk, indicated by his footwear. The Driver defeats the impostor holy man and rescues the boy. When he leaves the Driver opens the gift which is revealed to be a bandage for his bleeding ear.

Beat the Devil

Beat the devil (2002), Tony Scott

The Driver is employed by an old man. He is going to meet the Devil to negotiate the deal as a young man in 1954 to trade his soul for fame and fortune. He proposes a new wager, for the stakes of the Driver’s soul against another fifty years for him, betting on the Driver racing against the Devil at dawn. The race ends with the Driver passes around a train while the Devil’s car crashes and explodes.

All the films show great respect to the product value of BMW. The core is “joy”, which is shown perfectly by all the famous directors. Also we could find the value of dynamic, challenging and cultured from these films. The series is a perfect exhibition for the BMW products. And we may say this is the right movie for the product.


There are many advantages of product placement in the movies. We have seen both successful and fail examples of product placement from Hollywood and China. When they are done correctly, the placement could greatly benefit both the movie and the brand. It can secure the film production budget, cover promotion budgets and get additional exposure for the movie with the stars, and also make the movies more realistic.

A good product placement is the same as a normal advertisement. It required to be placed with the right product, in the right movie and at the accurate moment. The product itself should be one part of the story. Also, in the movie, the brand value should be shown very clearly to make a good placement. The product is good for the movie: The used product should be a main character in the film. It should be “needed” in the film, not “planted”. The movie is good for the product: The movie is good for showing the product. The product and the brand value are showed properly in the films.

This is the same as typical advertisement. So it should be treated the same as other marketing methods with the similar theories. It is important to carefully integrate products into movie in order to minimize the risk of aggressive advertising which might lead to negative results.

[1]. Wikipedia: product placement:

[2]. Wikipedia: marketing:

[3]. Product Placement in Film, Viki Antonopoulou, Geogia National Film Center June 2010

[4]. Top Gun (1986), Director: Tony Scott

[5]. Cast away (2000), Director: Robert Zemeckis

[6]. Transformers (2007), Director: Michael Bay

[7]. the Italian Job (2003) Director: F. Gary Gray

[8]. the Cellphone (2001) Director: FENG Xiaogang

[9]. BMW Brand Behavior Training, Ruud Rabenberg, Laura Wang, BMW China, Automotive Trading, Ltd. 2007

[10]. Chosen (2001), Director Ang Lee

[11]. Beat the Devil (2002), Director Tony Scott

[12].The Effectiveness of Brand Placements in the Movies: Levels of Placements, Explicit and Implicit Memory, and Brand-Choice Behavior, Moonhee Yang, David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen, Journal of Communication 57 (2007)

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