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Apple - The Masters of Product Placement

The behemoth company, Apple, worth billions of dollars, dwarfs all other companies in sales of its devices. More iPhones are sold every year than there are cars sold worldwide. Apple sells more than 55,000 iPads every single day and 2.47 iPods every single second. There is no stronger company in the entire world.

Apple, however, faces the same problem that all other companies have: consumers have “tuned out” advertisements, so now companies have to find out how to bypass this indifference to their products. Marketers have been working to find a better way to reach these consumers, and product placement, specifically in movies, appears to be the solution.

Marketers have strategically placed various products within movies from the very beginning of the industry. Even in the silent films, you can see Hershey’s chocolate being eaten by the heroine or in the 1930s, Wrigley’s Chewing Gum prominently featured in various scenes, or Gordon’s Gin being thrown over the side of the boat in African Queen. Subtle, yes—but the brand image stayed in front of the audience. Marketers found that discreet placement of products within movies would keep that product brand image fresh, positive, and in front of the eyes of the public, painlessly.

Because of that, product placement in movies has a direct effect upon sales of that product, and with a huge financial reward beckoning, most marketers are willing to pay a considerable amount of money for the privilege of their product appearing in movies. Apple is the one brand which is the exception; Apple does not pay for any product placement, yet is the number one company for product placement in movies today. “Apple won’t pay to have their products featured, but they are more than willing to hand out an endless amount of computers, iPads, and iPhones,” says Gavin Polone, movie producer. The Apple devices are perceived of as “cool” or “sexy”, thus becoming very desirable not only for movie production employees, but also movie-goers. On most movie sets, Apple devices far outnumber any other products because of this perception, and Apple has staff whose specific job is to make sure Apple is in every big movie and out in front of viewers, perpetuating that belief of sexy and cool.

This great give-away of Apple products has paid off on a grand scale for the company. Brand Channel awarded Apple the 2012 Product Placement of the Year for its effective product placement within movies—Apple devices were in over 40% of the box office hits of 2011. No other product even comes close to these stats.

What is all of this product placement worth to Apple? In a nutshell: tens of millions of dollars. In the movie, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol,  Apple was not an official brand partner and did not pay to have its products on screen, yet Apple devices still had eight minutes of free time on screen, with a placement value of over $23 million.  In the first Mission: Impossible, Apple did not pay for placement of the PowerMac, but agreed that Apple would “strongly promote” the movie in its ads, saving the movie almost $500,000 in production costs and of course, accruing more glory for Apple. In You’ve Got Mail, 33% of all of the products featured were Apple products, garnering 3:58 minutes in air time. That kind of advertising simply can’t be purchased.

Apple is truly the exception, both as company and product promoter. Never paying but always giving, Apple bestows product in order to receive placement. 

Below is segment from The Morning Show we did on Product Placements



Kylie Gillies Well, their advertising campaigns have people lining up for hours for the latest gadget. But now Apple's biggest marketing secret has been revealed in court with the company relying heavily on free product placement in TV shows and movies.

Larry Emdur Last year alone, Apple placed its products in over 40% of Hollywood blockbusters without spending a cent. Not every brand gets a free ride with some companies paying top dollar for a cameo.

Speaker 3: It's the big brand  launching an advertising stealth attack.

Speaker 5: What next? Ms. Woods?

Speaker 6: Don't you need to have evidence?

Speaker 3: For years Apple has capitalized on its cool factor with free product placement.

Speaker 7: Two hours, two Manila envelopes, and countless emails later.

Speaker 3: 2011's Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol featured eight free minutes of screen time for Apple products with a reported airtime value of $23 million.

Speaker 8: No, I won't. I will not open that door. Please go to the extraction point, Ethan. I know what this means, but I can't. I am not authorized-

Speaker 3: Rom-Com. Friends with Benefits managed to script an iPad app into one seen, despite Sony being their official sponsor.

Speaker 9: Hand on the iPad.

Speaker 10: Okay.

Speaker 9: Wait, No.

Speaker 10: Why can't they figure this out?

Speaker 9: There we go.

Speaker 3: While studios are bending over backwards to include Apple products on screen, other companies fork out big bucks for the privilege with a hit movie almost certainly guaranty big sales. This famous scene from ET boosted sales of Hershey's Reese's Pieces by a whopping 65% in just two weeks of the movie's release.

Speaker 3: While Mini Cooper enjoyed a 22% increase in sales after appearing in 2003's The Italian Job.

Kylie Gillies So what are the most expensive ... sorry?

Larry Emdur That we still feed the kids like that, put Reese's Pieces on the floor-

Kylie Gillies What are the most expensive product placements of all time? Joining us in the studio with [inaudible] is marketing expert, Matthew Bywater from 4Promote. Good day, Matthew. How does Apple get it for free when the other people have to fork out big bucks?

Matthew Bywater: Well, they have a great product and there's probably two main reasons why they always get this for free. They have a fantastic product, they have a very unique product. You often see, particularly in the PC world or the computer world, is that you've got PCs. They got all these brains or PCs and Mac being able to say, look, you've got PCs or you've got Mac. So you want to be different, you want to be special, go to the Mac. The other thing is is that Steve Jobs recognized a long time ago that product placements in movies were going to be really important. It actually puts someone on who specifically does this. Not paying for these sponsorships, all these placements, but they're actually got someone who's dedicated actually giving all this stuff into the right type of movies and TV shows.

Larry Emdur Yeah, but in the casting it's just as important as casting a big star, isn't it? Because you want a cool star everyone can agree with or understand. And it's like having the technology the same that everyone's got.

Larry Emdur Let's talk some figures. How much would this equate to in free advertising, if it's a big movie?

Matthew Bywater: Huge movie, okay, one of the biggest ones that we're concerned ... that we've actually been able to measure was actually Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. A lot of industry experts believe that about $24 maybe $25 million in actual brand awareness for Apple just from that one movie. That was probably on the biggest one off ones that we've been able to measure. If we talked sort of the last 12 months, Apple is pulling somewhere between $45 and $50 million in brand awareness for the cycle of a few products handed out on set.

Kylie Gillies Wow. So the new Bond film, let's move on to that. It's called Skyfall, the largest sponsorship deal in history. What is it?

Matthew Bywater: Yeah, it's huge. We're talking about roughly around $45 million, which is more than double the largest ever one, which was a Minority Report, which was about $20 million. The interesting thing here is there's a couple of themes which are sort of erroneous. One is there's actually less brands in this movie. They've gone from nine down to about six but as a couple of newies and one of those is Heineken, which has been somewhat controversial because James Bond as you know is very well renowned for shaken but not stirred yet. I'm not sure what he's going to do with his beer. There's a lot of question marks about does this actually help the James Bond brand? Because we're talking before Apple helps people's brands, or the characters, or the TV show whatever they may be.

Kylie Gillies So Heineken. Who else-

Matthew Bywater: Coke Zero. New one again. Once again a question. I mean we're talking about a bad ass spy drinking Coke Zero. I mean he can drink the real stuff. He could afford it, right? I'm not sure if that actually fits. [Amiri's] back on, Aston Martin's back on and there are going to be some Chinese tech firms, which we're not exactly sure who they are just yet, but we're going to see some new ones [crosstalk 00:00:04:43].

Larry Emdur [inaudible] on this show? The previous records, Steven Spielberg's movie, Minority Report. What was that?

Matthew Bywater: It was about $20 million. That was probably very well done as far as how to a lot of product placements. It was huge, but what was good about that movie is they're very subtly done. As you're walking past ... It wasn't some sort of impromptu, yeah, push up the flat card and look at my watch or whatever it may be.

Kylie Gillies Sure. That was subtle, but we just need to show this shot here. This is not subtle, and this is the American Idol judging panel with those huge Coca-Cola cups. I mean, this isn't subtle and I don't know if it works for them or or against them. But those huge cups, they have an American Idol. Look at that. I mean, to me that would work against it.

Matthew Bywater: Yeah. Yeah. Well in American that's probably a small size, so ...

Larry Emdur Shot glass.

Kylie Gillies Thanks Matthew, that's great. Thanks so much for your time.


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Reader Comments (1)

Very insightful stuff, really enjoyable read.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterServicing Stop

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