After writing the television product placement feature, I got some requests and also thought about doing a movie equivalent. This feature will include some quite good examples of product placement in films as well as some extraordinary blatant and frankly bad product placement.
The James Bond franchise have always 'done' product placement but it is partly the reason why we all love him so much. The gadgets, the women (and handsome men) and the cars. Let's start with the first. In the more recent James Bond films (Pierce Brosnan onwards) Bond has always had an Omega watch. Product Placement however discrete it may be. The camera may never have focused on it fully but in 'Die Another Day' it is a laser cutter and the watch is actually mentioned in 'Casino Royale" and is almost compared with competitive products:
Vespa: "You know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches, Rolex?"
Whilst it may be product placement, it is good product placement. It works brilliantly with the story line without being overly flashy and fits the character as does the Aston Martin fascination. In keeping with his lavish lifestyle (I am unsure as to what the standard pay is for a surveillance officer of the Secret Intelligence Service but apparently it is a lot) an Aston Martin undoubtedly features. BMW took over this role for a brief period in the 90's which was just believable yet what still grinds with me is that James Bond featured a Ford Fiesta.
I am fully aware he didn't drive it but a new Ford Fiesta, not believable. Yet shooting Alfa Romeo's chasing at an Aston Martin DBS is. I am aware this argument is full of bullet holes.
In the grand scheme however James Bond has placed their products pretty well. They don't pan their camera shots across a logo or even, as The Town did, weave it into the dialogue.
The Town's robbery storyline somehow managed to con security guards into giving over their phones as well as conning us into believing every phone is a blackberry...
"Blackberries forward..." shouts one of the robbers, whilst this isn't exactly placement, it is clever, very clever and I did not like this one bit, sneaky and dishonest are probably not the words Blackberry would like me associate with their range of phones... too late.
Moving on from individual films, I'll talk about specific brands.
Audi have clearly increased their advertising budget for the last few years as their film presence has been growing.
I first noticed a very blatant product for audi in the film I, Robot. A concept car was used for the film and a wide sweeping shot of the film featuring the classic four rings was the main focus on screen. Poor advertising.
More recently Audi have included their range of cars into the two Iron Man films and even produced a poster for the latter in which their new model is the main feature.
However the movie in which Audi decided to bombard us with their cars was the Liam Neeson film - Taken. A car chase occurs during the movie and an Audi is the car being chased and the chasing car - Ridiculous.
Whilst this film isn't exactly the most believable, the likelihood of two similar model, same brand cars chasing each other through the city of Paris, where Renaults and Citreons heavily feature, is less likely than Apple halting the production of the new iPhone because it is too popular. It won't and would never happen.
Speaking of Apple, they have always remained very tight lipped as to how their products end up in so many big budget films. Many put out that, in regards to their television placement, they only pay to have their products feature in shows they like, the rest use the brand because it is associated with this sense of cool. I am less sure the same applies to film. Their products feature in so many films that I am not even going to list any. I will merely bet that in the next 5 newer films you watch there will feature at least two iPhones and perhaps some form of MacBook. If you want to win this bet watch any film made in conjunction with Sony Pictures as they cottoned on to this idea that Apple were featuring in many of their films and now the characters only use VAIO branded machines.
This product placement malarkey doesn't annoy me really, if anything it amuses me. It is very funny seeing the lead walk into shot then dial a number, at which point there is an close-up shot of the phone and the words Verizon written above the keypad (watch the movie Unstoppable and you will see what I'm talking about). If anything, what frustrates me is the lack of attention to detail. For the films that feature Apple products you see a character using the machine in question but a shot of the screen reveals a Windows toolbar. Sort out the continuity.