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The Five Best Uses of Product Placement in Cinema

Video marketing has come a long way, as emphasised in our last blog surrounding the introduction of virtual reality to the marketing sector. Some of the most successful video marketing campaigns however use the most powerful marketing tool on earth – Cinema. With its mix of celebrities and well-known franchises, many large companies pay millions for their product or brand to appear within these money-making productions. This is called product placement or embedded marketing. 

From James Bond drinking a Heineken to Dr Dre’s Beats headphones appearing in Jurassic Park, the list is endless. This is a marketing strategy for predominantly massive conglomerates, especially if the embedded marketing is going to be noticeable, but it is a great example of how the power of video can be used to promote brands on a larger scale. 

So what are some of the most famous examples of product placement within cinema? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our pick of the top five uses of product placement within film!


  1. Ray-Ban – Top Gun

Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise, introduced a wider audience to aviator sunglasses – glasses used to protect the eyes of pilots while flying. The sleek look of these sunglasses on Tom Cruise as he dramatically flew jets and rode motorcycles resulted in a 40% increase in aviator sunglasses sales. As Ray-Ban was the one who created Cruise’s pair in the film, their product placement not only increased their sales but the sales of the whole eyewear market. 

Aviator sunglasses are now not only used by pilots for their original purpose, they are now a household name and fashion statement, the aviation industry flying through its only boundaries and landing in a completely different sector.

  1. Reese’s Pieces – E.T.

One of the earliest and most well-known food product placements in film was the appearance of Reese’s Pieces in the movie E.T. After originally approaching Mars Inc about the potential chocolate used as a lure for E.T. in the film, Mars Inc declined. However, Steven Spielberg then approached Hershey’s and as a result Reese’s Pieces were chosen – rightfully so, they’re pretty irresistible to humans, let alone extraterrestrials. 

This embedded marketing was so popular that Reese’s Pieces are still commonly referred to as UFO candies after their appearance in the film. Hershey’s 65% spike in sales within 2 weeks of the film’s release emphasised how powerful product placement could be if used correctly in blockbuster films, paving the way for future uses of embedded marketing in cinema. This film not only abducted people’s hearts but also their taste buds.

  1. Multiple Brands – Wayne’s World

Featuring too many brands and product placement in one scene can ruin the immersion of a film, as well as make it difficult for viewers to notice and remember every brand they have seen. Wayne’s World, however, works around this problem by making a joke about embedded marketing, seeing multiple characters eating and wearing different branded products while also mocking that “people only do things because they get paid”.

This clever scene allows the film to advertise these companies by using humour, without pulling viewers away from the film’s narrative. They hilariously managed to market Doritos, Reebok, Pizza Hut, Nuprin, and Pepsi in the space of one minute. It turns out the best tactic is sometimes to make fun of product placement while making product placement! 

  1. Nike – Back To The Future 2

The second instalment of the Back to the Future films features a very famous scene where Marty Mcfly picks up a pair of self-lacing shoes. The moment he puts them on, a Nike logo is clearly lit up on the futuristic footwear as he presses a button and the laces are tied in seconds. 

This product placement was unusual because these shoes didn’t exist, and therefore it seemed like Nike were promoting an imaginary product. However, the most important reasoning behind this was that the Nike brand was associated with the very successful movie franchise, portraying the brand as futuristic and the epitome of fashionable footwear. This alone drove Nike sales through the roof, resulting in them creating a very similar version of the shoes that appeared in the film called ‘Hyperdunk’, but of course, without the self-tieing lases. With only 1000 pairs available, and the first pair rightfully received by Marty Mcfly actor, Micheal J. Fox, the price of these shoes gradually rose to extortionate levels. 

Here we are in the future, and still very little has managed to rival the success of this product placement marketing campaign.

  1. Aston Martin – James Bond 

Now this is a big one. When you first think of James Bond you either think of his shaken, not stirred martinis, or his ungodly number of Aston Martins over the years. The first appearance of the Aston Martin car within this film franchise was the Aston Martin DB5 in 1964’s Goldfinger. Since then at least one Aston Martin has been present in almost all James Bond films. 

It has gotten so familiar to see this brand of car driven by James Bond, that seeing him not drive one is alien to us all. This is a sign of a perfect product placement strategy. It’s no surprise that millions of people wanted to follow suit with the stylish 007 agent, a massive fan base for Aston Martin spawning and still thriving today as a result. 

Seeing these luxury cars in car chases and gunfights only emphasises the elegance, class, and bravery that comes with owning an Aston Martin. Whether driven by Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, this embedded marketing is one of the most successful and widely recognised of our time. Using video marketing in cinema correctly can really cause markets to be shaken, not stirred.

So that was our pick of the top 5 product placement uses in cinema! Let us know what you think in the comments! Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you think we missed a really awesome example? Comment below!