Belfast Telegraph

Product placement

Its products are a ubiquitous feature of modern life. So perhaps it is hardly surprising that, for the third year in succession, Apple has secured more appearances in box office-topping films than any other brand.

According to, Apple products appeared in 10 of the 33 films which reached number one in the US last year.

Yet there is a sub-plot to this story. In percentage terms, that number was a reduction on 2009, when 19 of the company's products were given a plug in 44 box office-topping films.

Apple will hardly be worried. Its products still appeared more often than its nearest rivals - Nike, Chevrolet and Ford.

One explanation for the decline is that studios may now be responding to hard cash, rather than the cultural cachet surrounding Apple. The technology giant does not pay for product placement.

It seems likely that Apple simply does not need publicity any more.

Its phones and computers actually have a disproportionate representation on screen - fewer than 15% of US computer-owning households have one by Apple.

The product placement industry is now worth nearly $4 billion (£2.4bn) in the US and the firm's rivals are using their muscle.

Sony Pictures' Resident Evil: Afterlife delivered a large helping of product placement to the Sony Vaio laptop - at Apple's expense.

Some of last year's big hits delivered few opportunities for Apple to sneak in a plug; the iPhone would have seemed out of place on Pandora, the lush setting for James Cameron's Avatar. But the continued success of the iPad is expected to boost Apple's presence in next year's list.

It has already featured in US television shows, including the American Office. Liz Lemon, the harassed television executive played by Tina Fey in the hit sitcom 30 Rock, uses an Apple computer.

The most popular product placement opportunity among last year's hits was Iron Man 2. However, with no fewer than 54 brands competing for screen space, it's doubtful if Apple's presence registered with viewers.

The company has regularly topped the list of the most conspicuous brands in Hollywood films. But Apple now faces competition from the likes of Sony, Dell, Land Rover, and Glock - a reflection of the shoot-outs dominant in action thrillers.

Its products featured in almost 15% of the number one films of 2010.


From Belfast Telegraph