Have you ever watched a movie or television show with your favorite actor and noticed the computer he or she was using was the same computer you’d been thinking about purchasing? What about the cellphone he or she used, or car he or she drove?
Well, if you have, you are recognizing product placement. Product placement is “an advertising technique used by companies to subtly promote their products through a non-traditional advertising technique, usually through appearances in film, television, or other media.” The purpose of product placement in film is plain and simple: companies use it as a way to increase engagement, create market strategy, and develop brand image.
When Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) get an internship at Google headquarters, the multinational technology company receives exposure of the internship program and how it runs. This is product placement because Google is advertising what it would be like to work at Google. By centering the film on an internship at Google, Google is reaching and engaging with all audience members who watch the movie.
Twilight, like most films, sneaks product placement into the technology devices the character uses. For example, Bella Swan, the main character, uses her Apple computer to search about “Vampires.” Apple frequently utilizes product placement in movies because of the brand recognition of their products. Product placement is beneficial for Apple because it may push consumers and customers to purchase one of their products.
The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is a classic movie about a monster boss and a hopeful employee. In a scene, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is forced to pick up coffee for the office. And, that coffee of choice: Starbucks. Starbucks uses product placement in movies in effort to get audience members craving their beverages and food.
Television also participate in product placement. In an episode of Modern Family, they have an entire episode dedicated to Claire (Julie Bowen) buying an Apple iPad. Again, Apple benefits from the product placement in this episode. People that watch this episode are laughing at the comedy in Modern Family, but are being marketed to by the Apple company.
And last, but not least, we have Mean Girls. Mean Girls, throughout the movie, has product placement. Examples include: the Lexus Regina George drives, the Diet Coke the Plastics drink, to the Louis Vuitton purse Cady Heron wears. Each of these products have a purpose of not only creating the characters in the movie, but engaging how the audience perceives the characters based on what they have, eat, or wear.
Product placement has become the norm in the film industry due to its ability to market to the target audience of that movie or television in a subtle way. It differs from commercial advertisements in the sense that the audience is naturally following the course of the movie with these small instances of product marketing, versus the abrupt advertisement change used during television program.
– Stephanie Spencer, ’18