Last week, Apple revealed one of its biggest marketing secrets in federal court: The company relies heavily on free product placement in television shows and movies.And Apple has a fascinating history of product placement, which it doesn’t like to talk about.
Click here to see the coolest Apple placements in TV and movies>
Bloomberg reports that Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, said that “One of Apple’s employees works closely with Hollywood on so-called product placement so its gadgets are used in movies and television shows.”
That one employee needs a raise.
Even though Apple has announced again and again that it doesn’t pay for spots, Apple products appeared in 891 TV shows in 2011 alone. According to Brandchannel, iDevices were in 40 per cent of movie box office hits.
“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,” Gavin Polone, who produced Zombieland, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more, told Businessweek. “It’s kind of a graft situation.”
From when Apple was more open with its movie tie-ins (Mission: Impossible was very public) to seemingly random placements (the iPad starred in a Modern Family episode the day before its release with supposedly no prompting from Apple), here are Apple’s most interesting product placements.
Did we miss something cool? Let us know in the comments.
Apple's product placement wasn't always so hush-hush. When the company was struggling in 1996, Jon Holtzman, Apple's marketing manager, made a major deal in which the PowerMac had a starring role in the first Mission: Impossible film. Although Apple didn't pay for the placement, the film and tech company made an arrangement: In exchange for PowerMac's prominent role, Apple would strongly promote the movie in its ads. (See the commercial below). This worked out pretty well for both parties involved.
'We saved almost $500,000 in production costs--and got Brian De Palma to direct and Tom Cruise to act in it,' Holtzman told Bloomberg.
Fifteen years later, the Mission: Impossible series still couldn't get enough of Apple products. But this time, there was no quid pro quo. Even though the film had three official brand partners (Toshiba, BMW, and Coke Zero) and it partnered with the NHL and Facebook, Apple's iPads, iPhones, etc. had eight minutes of free screen time.
Legally Blonde's protagonist, Elle Woods, didn't only stand out for being supposedly the only attractive blonde female in all of Harvard Law, but her sherbet iBook did anything but blend into a sea of black PCs.
One should note that this was in the era in which the Apple logo appeared upside down when it was opened. Joe Holtzman had fought for the change to make things easier for product placement opportunities: In the 1990s, filmmakers would resort to making special stickers so that the logo would appear upright.
Former Apple employee Joe Moreno explained that Steve Jobs had opted for this design choice so that consumers would see the apple sign right side up when it was closed.
'Why was it upside down from the user's perspective an issue? Because the design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the wrong end. Steve Jobs always focuses on providing the best possible user experience and believed that it was more important to satisfy the user than the onlooker ... Obviously, after a few years, Steve reversed his decision.'
30 Rock's obsession with the iPhone--characters are constantly showing each other pictures on the device--is so ubiquitous that it was already a joke in 2009, three seasons ago.
Apple products' seamless integration into 30 Rock storylines (they are rarely mentioned by name) contrasts with 30 Rock's often jokey product placements for Snapple and McDonald's, which are often listed in the credits.
Even though HP had a few episodes in which it clearly paid for placements in 'The Office'--the giveaway: HP's 'promotional consideration' line in the credits--Apple has always been the product of choice at Dunder Mifflin. A holiday-themed episode revolved around office mates vying for an Video iPod (well above the $20 limit) during a game of Secret Santa. And one character, the a capella loving Andy Bernard, notes that the incognito iMac 'is a sick computer. Gwen Stefani has this computer.'
AOL was the real winner in You've Got Mail--heck, it was basically in the title. But according to AnyClip, which tracked products' screen time for Mashable, Apple appeared in the movie for a total of 3:58 minutes. In fact, 33 per cent of the featured products were by Apple.
Carrie Bradshaw was always writing/doing her nails in front of a Mac Book. If she could afford all those Manolos, then Apple's hardware was definitely in her budget. Bradshaw stayed together with her Mac longer than she did with any love interest.
Apparently HP got jealous of all of the screen time that Apple was getting with the SATC ladies, because the company paid to be featured in Sex and the City 2.
But even in spite of what must have been a hefty paycheck, Carrie Bradshaw was still loyal to her Mac.
Samantha and other characters, however, switched to HP.
Apple won Brand Channel's 2012 Product Placement of the Year award. Even though Apple doesn't pay for placement, Front Row Analytics analysed how much some of the company's screen time has been worth.
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