7 Examples of Product Placement that are Hard to Miss

Call it product placement, brand integration or embedded marketing, — it’s all a mater of semantics — with each term referring to an “Advertising technique that is used by brands and businesses to promote their business and service via a non-traditional advertising technique.” – Business Dictionary.  When the opportunity presents itself, businesses will partner with the film and television industry to subtly reach millions of viewers via product placement.

Product placement tends to have a high recall value due to the positive associations an audience will have with the narrative’s characters. In mentioning this, co-branding partnerships that pair brands within the context of fictional dramas are lucrative not only for film studio executives, but businesses as well.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable examples of product placement in film and television.

1. Coca-Cola in The Gods Must Be Crazy

Beverage company Coca-Cola has had appearances in a number of feature length films. Just to name a few instances of Coke products being featured films are,

  • Neon billboard ad in Blade Runner
  • Billboard ad in The Mystery of The Leaping Fish
  • On a helmet in The Last American Hero

But the most memorable appearance of the beverage was probably in the movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy.

In the film, an empty Coca-Cola bottle falls from the sky and revered by a tribe in the Kalahari.  The bottle is thought to be a gift from the gods and what follows are a series of comedic errors as the bottle is passed around — the movie was immensely popular, leading to several sequels starring the bottle!

As a result, the empty glass Coke bottle in The Gods Must Be Crazy remains one of the best examples of product placement to date.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

The Gods Must Be Crazy

2. Reese’s Pieces in E.T.

No write-up about product placement is complete without the mention of Reese’s Pieces and how it gained massive popularity in the 80’s through a co-branding effort. The situation came about only after candy competitor Mars, Inc. rejected the offer for M&M’s in the project — helmed by director Steven Spielberg.

blockbuster E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

The studios then approached the Hershey Company with an offer that sought to feature Hershey Kisses as the E.T.’s favorite candy. However, Hershey wanted to introduce their latest product, Reese’s Pieces, through the movie. A deal was signed and E.T. went on to became a blockbuster hit, with the Hershey brand enjoying phenomenal success with their sales increasing exponentially!

3. M&Ms in Fuller House

Mars, Inc. had to move on after the E.T. incident, and more recently their colorful, hard-shell M&M candies in Fuller House —the sequel to the immensely popular Full House series. In the first season of the spin-off series, we see character DJ Tanner’s eldest son sorting M&M’s by color to win over his classmate.

4. Twitter in Grey’s Anatomy

When it comes to product placements in movies and television, social media platforms aren’t far behind.  Take a look at this example of micro-blogging on Twitter,featured in an episode of the ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. An episode in the series features Dr. Miranda Bailey using Twitter during surgery, much to the bewilderment of  another character, Chief Webber.  “Dr Bailey ends up using Twitter as a means to teach her interns even when they aren’t in the actual room with her.” – Jeanne Sager, Cafe Mom

5. Siri in the Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory features many product placements, which are often introduced by way of the geeky banter among the show’s protagonists.  In fact, so many products have been mention that Wikia.com has actually them — the list includes games, movie and pop cultural references.  By far the best instance of product placement is an episode featuring Apple’s, Siri,  where one of the protagonists falling in love with the personal assistant.

Note: You can go through the full list of the product placement on the sitcom here.

6. AOL in You’ve Got Mail

Once upon a time, internet connectivity was defined by AOL (America Online), and its dial-up orchestra of whirring, screeching, whining dial-up sounds.

A signature feature of AOL’s service was the auto-generated virtual greeting, You’ve Got Mail, whenever users logged on to new mail in their inbox. It subsequently became the title of the romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.  Based on a play that originally involved snail mail, the movie takes things forward using electronic mail and hence, the title of the film.

The film is another example of a co-branding partnership between a studio (Warner Bros.) and a business-to-consumer brand.

7. Google in The Internship

The Internship is a 2013 comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as recently unemployed salesmen who apply to become interns at Google.

Because the tech giant needs no introduction and Googling has officially become a word – verb, to be specific – as ubiquitous as eating, drinking and sleeping.

The movie was honestly one long-winded advertisement for the company. Nevertheless, it was a genius act of product placement, that kept the tech brand on the tip of moviegoers tongues, as they recanted the film’s narrative to friends and family.

To expand upon our list, here are a few other instances of product placements in film and television:

Product placements are an extremely clever take on advertising, but it should be noted that they do not offer guaranteed success. There have been instances of product placement going wrong, and in order to overcome those pitfalls, you should do your homework like any good marketer.

Have you come across any product placement worth mentioning here? Let us know!