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The art of product placement
Blog / Brand

The art of product placement

A look at the best - and worst - of product placement deals
Last week, Britain’s longest running TV show, Coronation Street, announced a lucrative product placement deal with two of the country’s most recognisable high street names – Co-op and Costa.

The unique agreement will see both brands open fully-furbished stores on the famous cobbles and viewers will have already seen Costa cups and Co-op bags popping up in recent episodes.

With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best – and worst – product placement ideas.

The British design icon is almost synonymous with classic 1966 film The Italian Job. So, when Paramount decided to remake the film with Mark Wahlberg in 2003, they approached BMW to see if they’d let them use the current model. The carmakers obliged, providing more than 30 vehicles in a move that definitely paid off – the company saw a 22% increase in sales of the Mini Cooper following the film’s release.

Reese’s Pieces
Here’s one that could have been different if director Steven Spielberg had got his way. The filmmaker initially asked Mars to allow him use M&Ms in the famous scene where Elliot lures ET inside the house. The confectioners refused, and their loss was Hershey’s gain as their Reese’s Pieces sweets were used instead. The sweets’ sagging sales soared, tripling within a fortnight of the film’s release.

Pepsi/Doritos/Pizza Hut/Reebok/Etc.
For some brands, the art of self-deprecation helps them connect with consumers, the public taking a shine to brands who appear down-to-earth and humble. It was a smart move then for Pepsi, Doritos, Pizza Hut (and more) to allow themselves (and the practice of product placement) to be skewered so hilariously in Wayne’s World – Mike Myers’ title character tucking in to a slice of pizza as he vows never to “bow to any sponsor”

The makers of Back to the Future 2 actually leant on product placement as a way of helping to tell the story, with various iconic brands helping viewers identify which time period we were in as Michael J Fox DeLoreaned himself between 1955, 1985 and 2015.

One of the brands feature were Nike, with the sportswear company creating a one-off pair of futuristic kicks, complete with lights and self-tightening laces. For years, the shoes were the holy grail for sneakerheads around the world, and in 2015 (the year Marty travels to in the future), Nike finally caved in to the demand and released a super-limited version of the trainers.

I know what you’re all wondering: “what about those times it goes wrong?”  Well, automobile manufacturer Ford sped off with the title of ‘Worst Product Placement Ever’ last year for their spot in the Netflix/ABC production Designated Survivor. Fans took to social media to lambast the producers of the Keifer Sutherland drama for their truly shameless Ford Fusion plug. From one-too-many shots of the vehicle’s app to a long, lingering look at Ford’s logo on the car interface, this was less a subtle bit of product placement and more a case of beating viewers repeatedly over the head with a brand. Too much, Ford, too much.


Posted 7 February 2018 by Ben Waterhouse