How Brands Market their Product in Movies | Product Placement in Movies (Case Study)

How Brands Market their Product in Movies | Product Placement in Movies (Case Study)

There are many forms of advertisements right from Print, Broadcast,  Podcasts, Email marketing, and Digital Advertisements. These are merely some examples. Anyway, there is one thing in common that all these advertisements have. That is, you know that these brands are consciously and deliberately pursuing you to buy their products. You know they are marketing their products and services to you.

Do you think people could advertise their products without doing it? Yes, there exists one such form of advertising which does it in a more subtle manner; and whether you know it or not, your brain unconsciously registers that. This type of advertisement is called product placement. It is a risky business, but when done correctly, product placement can have a huge impact.

The Origin of Product Placement
How Product placement entered the mainstream in the 1980s: A Brief History
Product Placement's in Current scenario
Product Placements in - To All The Boys I've loved before
Product Placement in James Bond Series
Product placement from Indian context
Why the business of placing products in the movies continues to thrive?

The Origin of Product Placement

1882 - Edward Monet Painting

Arguments for the first cases ever documented

Though this is a debated topic, some scholars argue that the first product placement to be ever done started with a painting done by Edward Monet in the year 1882 for a beer-selling company.

Edward Monet Painting
Edward Monet Painting

Another one is said to have been done for a movie none other than the Lumiere brothers' film in the year 1896. It was a soap manufactured by a British company, the Lever Brothers. However, the first ever product placement to be documented was in the year 1920.

1920 - The Garage, Red Crown Gasoline

The first documented case of a company paying to place their product that was ever recorded was for a silent movie, The Garage starring Fatty Arbuckle and Roscoe Arbuckle.

1927 - The Hershey's chocolate, Wings

The trend started emerging and the Marx Brothers caught up with it in the year. Fun fact: the first movie, which won an Academy Award, also did have product placement. It was, of course, for Wings, and the first appearance of Hershey's Chocolate bars featured.

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How Product placement entered the mainstream in the 1980s: A Brief History

So how did really the business of in-film product placement boom?

The production team was not really paid back then to place their products in the movies. But it involved a different deal. Like asking: do you need a car for your movie? And if the team would say yes, then the brands would let them use their products for free or create cross-promotional campaigns that feature both the product and the movie. Until the 20th century, mostly the concept was pretty much informal.

Guess the company that paid a million dollars to promote their company?

Reeses Pieces Product Placement in Extra Terrestrial
'Reeses Pieces' Product Placement in 'Extra Terrestrial'

A hint: The company sells chocolate products. In the early 1980s, the trend went mainstream, and Steven Spielberg's new film was to promote Hershey's brand.

Initially, the deal involved Mars, but it withdrew away from being featured, but then a deal was made between Hershey's marketing executive. The Reese's pieces were used and in exchange Hershey's was to create a 1 million dollar campaign for the film. The sales of the product went up, which had only been introduced years ago.

Until the 1982s, the movie, The Extra-terrestrial was a huge success, both as a movie and for doing product placement.

Product Placement's in Current scenario

The practice of consciously placing products in movies is almost a common practice now in the twenty-first century. So much now that it does not only involve films and movies, but also many famous web series that were huge hit. And we know that Netflix does this all the time. Even though Netflix denies the fact. Namely, there are three types of product placements which are explained in brief below:

The three types of product placements are:

Screen placements

Burger King Product placement in Stranger Things
'Burger King' Product placement in 'Stranger Things'
  • In screen placements, the products are usually placed in the foreground or the background.
  • There is no mention of the name of the product, but the product is shown on screen and is given a fair amount of time to get noticed by the audience.

Script placements

'KitKat' Product placement in 'Sex Education'
'KitKat' Product placement in 'Sex Education'

Let us take an example of the Netflix show's last episode of Sex Education from season 3. Both our characters Eric and Otis deliberately mention the product name KitKat, when Eric's lines say it all.

Otis: "What do you want?

Eric: "Um… Oh, a KitKat. Always a KitKat"

And when Otis offers Hope one when she is having a mental breakdown in the hospital.

Hope: I don’t need a KitKat

Plot Placement

Beats Product placement in Only Murders in The Building
'Beats' Product placement in 'Only Murders in The Building'

Making the products connected to a character and integrating it as a part of your film. Let's take Beats Studios Wireless Headphones in the web series "Only Murders in the Building" where Selena's character's first appearance as Mabel clearly features using the headphones when she steps into the elevator and the product is subtly mentioned by the other character _ trying to make a conversation with her.

The product is so seamlessly blended with the character that even when their podcast gains popularity you can see the fans using the same headphones while sitting outside the building. It creates an emotional bond.

We could say the same with Eggos and Evelyn intertwining the product with a character in Stranger Things.

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Let's take a look at Hollywood's one of the most watched and talked about movies adapted from Jenny Han's book.

Product Placements in - To All The Boys I've Loved Before


To All The Boys I Loved Before - Yakult Product Placement
To All The Boys I Loved Before - Yakult Product Placement

The fermented skim milk was created in the year 1935 in Japan and got a major sales boost after getting a cameo in an adapted movie from Jenny Han's book " To all the boys I've loved before" the drink is.

Subway sandwiches:

To All The Boys I Loved Before - Subway Product Placement
To All The Boys I Loved Before - Subway Product Placement

They gave Subway an emoji specially designed for the company to show the love that Lara Jeans, best friend has been craving for its sandwiches. They can also be seen sitting under the bleachers and having them.

Mountain dew and Arizona iced tea:

To All The Boys I Loved Before - Mountain Dew and Arizona Iced Tea Product Placement
To All The Boys I Loved Before - Mountain Dew and Arizona Iced Tea Product Placement

The conversation that takes place between Lara and Josh sitting in the stands at the beginning of the movie, with a flashback with Jean is shown having Josh as her first real boyfriend with a space in between. Though not mentioned by name, the products get enough screen time in the scene to get noticed by the audience and not to forget mountain dew is mentioned in one of Josh's dialogues.


The still shot that shows shoes of Lucas in the stall next to Lara is occupied when she runs away after kissing Peter for the first time on the running ground, and there goes them wearing Converse shoes which are already pretty much popular among the teens.


Using Instagram was shown quite effortlessly by both Peter and Lara as the social media platform is very popular among the youth and especially teens. Looking from the point of view that the movie was for teens. They nailed it, getting placement in the right place and for the right audience.

Apple's MacBook Air:

To All The Boys I Loved Before - Apple MacBook Product Placement
To All The Boys I Loved Before - Apple MacBook Product Placement

MacBooks are frequently shown throughout the movie when Lara and Kitty watch the movies when Margot leaves for college, and during movie marathons while fake-dating Kavinsky. The logo of Apple clearly gives out the message about the product Skype. iPhone when his dad takes their picture for entering new grades.

Jeep Wrangler:

To All The Boys I Loved Before - Jeep Wrangler Product Placement
To All The Boys I Loved Before - Jeep Wrangler Product Placement

Used by Peter Kavinsky when he comes to pick up Jean and Kitty the first time when he drops Lara off after clearing things about the letter in the cafe and driving her home.

Some of the placements by brands were quite a success as they did the job for Yakult, making people nostalgic about it along with exposing many other products to the audience with it one of the most-watched movie series.

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Product Placement in James Bond Series

Product Placements of Lark Cigarettes in the James Bond Series
Product Placements of Lark Cigarettes in the James Bond Series

The popular movie franchise “James Bond” did it all the time. Since the release of Dr No in 1962, the James Bond franchise has been associated with a number of brands. Many brands came in line to pay for promotions in the future instalments for the famous cinema piece. The early films featured Pan-am Airlines and smith and Wesson firearms. The early films feature tie-ins with popular companies like Pan-Am Airlines and Smith and Wesson firearms. The iconic cigar that Bond fashioned is also a very popular brand placement. It is said and reported that Lark Cigarettes paid as much as $350,000 to feature their brand of cigarettes in Licence to Kill. Besides the aforementioned brands, some of the other popular brands to be associated with the franchise are Microsoft, Gillette, Playboy, Toblerone, 7Up, and KFC.

Aston Martin's Placement in Goldfinger

Product Placement of Aston Martin in Goldfinger
Product Placement of Aston Martin in Goldfinger

Even after we have talked about so much brand placement in the movie, we can still remember the iconic ride of James Bond. It was the luxury car brand Aston Martin that was honoured with bond’s feet on their product. Aston Martin, the luxury car brand jumped at an opportunity to be associated with the British spy. Starting from Goldfinger in 1964, this partnership has endured the test of time.

Product placement from Indian context

The movie with the most iconic dialogues and is very famous for the memes that make you go, say relatable!

Domino's, Baburao and Phir Hera Pheri

Remember the scene from the movie when Baburao comes climbing down the stairs, asking everyone to gather around. The box that he holds is of Domino's pizza and the also mentions to Sham how he tricks the Domino's pizza delivery guy to get a free pizza according to the brand's then ongoing scheme.

Bournvita, Rohit, and Koi Mil Gaya

Koi Mil Gaya Bournvita's Product Placement
Koi Mil Gaya Bournvita's Product Placement

No matter your age, a Bollywood movie that almost everyone knows about is Koi Mil Gaya starring Hritik Roshan and Preity Zinta. The movie is famous for the appearance of an alien named 'Jaadoo'. Apart from this, the movie makes for a great example of the product placement of Bournvita. In this movie, it is shown that the young Rohit (Hritik's character) loves to drink his milk with Bournvita in it. In some scenes, he even boasts about it to his friends and also offers some Bournvita to a winning kid in a game.

Another example of a movie starring Hritik is the Bollywood film “Yaadein”. It was a hit, like all other movies that star Hritik Roshan. He is an all-time favourite actor in the business. But could you notice Coke's 'Product placement' throughout the entire running time of the movie? You might not remember but your brain must have noticed, “Cool people like Hrithik drink Coke”.

Why the business of placing products in the movies continues to thrive?

What are the advantages of product placement?

  • It can create trends and affect cultures.
  • Even bring a crashing product back into the business again on top of the market again.
  • People will prefer to see a real brand rather than a fake or a created one on screen.
  • Helps increase awareness about your product and the brand.
  • Gets money rolling in for production.
  • Ropes in money for production or advertising.
  • Helps in giving exposure and recognition to your brand
  • Reduces the cost required for the filming budget.
  • Helps integrate the brand's values through storytelling
  • Creates a positive brand recall.
  • When used effectively, it can also help boost sales.

Setbacks of Product placement


We know that product placement is a very bumpy ride and can be a huge interruption for a movie or series fan. Moviemakers know it very well. However, if done smoothly and carefully, it will go unnoticed by the audience and it will also make revenue for the brand. Thus, product placement in movies or series can do wonders for a brand, if done correctly.


What is product placement

Product placement is a form of an advertisement in which a branded item or object is placed in a movie as part of the movie.

Which movie has the most product placement?

Avengers Endgame is a movie that had a combined 76 million dollars in product placement advertising value.

What is example of product placement?

If in a movie, the lead actor is drinking a clearly labelled Coca-Cola beverage or using a clearly labelled Samsung cell phone, then it is product placement.

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