Product Placement: Marketing Through Shows and Movies

Product Placement: Marketing Through Shows and Movies

“We live in a world of advertisements”. This quote is aptly said as it constantly reminds us of advertisements everywhere. They are like gods, Omnipresent. You open a youtube video, an ad appears, you go to social media, an ad appears, you say “F you” to the online world and switch on the television and, yes you are guessing it right, an ad appears.

They are so omnipresent that we now think that they are the reality. Guess, they're not. Advertisements are all a marketing technique and the purpose is to make a product look like a blessing. It was cool and all until advertisements were manufactured claiming they were ads. In this digital hyper-connected world, we have arrived at a junction where we don't know what is advertisement and what is not. This article is about marketing that is diffused within other forms of content, especially movies and TV shows. Let us read and see how cleverly we are made-to-believe products.

Brand Marketing Over the Years
Product Placement in Films
Need for Product Placement
Benefits of Product Placement
Problems with Product Placement

Brand Marketing Over the Years

There are many forms and types of advertisements. We can see examples of ad print media, broadcast media, Online social media advertisements and many more. As technology evolves we tend to see it everywhere. We can see newspapers filled with advertisements, we can see our dish TV filled with all sorts of advertisements. Now, when the world is online, we can see ads everywhere online. They are on our social media timelines, on our Youtube account, on websites we travel and much much more.

Except for every other factor, there is always one thing that is sure. We can immediately tell that we are watching an advertisement when we see one, but this surety is vanishing gradually. Now we can't really be sure if we are watching an advertisement or an actual real thing that we would like to watch…

Product Placement in Films

What we are seeing is that brands are trying to diffuse brands even in the content we want to watch. Imagine watching your favourite actor Hrithik Roshan saying “I love coke” in a movie, how weird is that? This is a very common trick that brands apply to our favourite types of content. This feels like getting backstabbed. Whatever you can say about it, we can clearly see signs of it everywhere. However, it is a super-risky thing to do but can do very well wonders if done smoothly.

Share of Product Placements 

Welcome to the world of “Product Placement”. Where you cannot tell if something is real or it is an advertisement. Brands and movie directors do it so smoothly that it is often left behind in the scenes and no one notices them. In fact, your brain (That smart little organ) does notice that and subconsciously notes it down for future use. Like you see an actor drink ‘Coke’ in a film, you don't really notice it but your brain does. You will then most probably and most likely order a coke when you go for lunch after that movie. Tweaks like these, here and there, are supposed to make a lot of difference in the long run. Brands are crazy about this and are paying huge sums of money to make this happen as smoothly as possible.

Need for Product Placement

We are going to see some examples to prove the fact that ‘Product placement’ is a real tactic of marketing. The reason for this is that normal people don't really pay that much attention to these little “stranger things”. Let us see some unnoticed brand placements that only your subconscious mind notices,

No matter your age, a Bollywood movie that almost everyone knows about is Koi Mil Gaya starring Hrithik 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.

Koe Mil Gya Movie Scene with Bournvita

Another example from a movie starring Hritik is the Bollywood film “Yaadein”. It was a hit, like all other movies that star Hrithik 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? This one rigid frame tells the same story, the “Coke in hand” almost everywhere. You might not remember but your brain must have noticed, “Cool people like Hrithik drink Coke”.

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 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 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.

James Bond with an Aston Martin

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.

Benefits of Product Placement

Why does this happen? Why do brands want to create a persona of a famous/popular actor using a brand product as an advertisement in product placement? This is a legit question and it has to be answered.

Social Proof

Social proof is a real thing in the marketing world. It is a social and psychological trick that business people use. Social proof means that people tend to believe whatever fellow people are using without a rationale. That clearly means that if you watch a crowd do a certain behaviour with a certain product, then you are most likely to follow the trend without asking for a reason or a why.

For a quick example, we can take the case of Redbull. Redbull is a carbonated drink maker and the company sells by packaging it as a power drink. The company knew the phenomena of social proof and its drinks were not famous among the masses in India. So what they did was they threw empty cans of Redbull outside every club and pub. This little activity added a lot of value to the brand red bull and made its revenue very high. What the ‘little hack’ did was it took the value proposition of red bull and made it appear “cool” in society. Once it was established that people “who visit clubs and pubs drink red bull”, then everyone started mimicking the behaviour by actually drinking red bull. This small trick can do wonders without even letting people think about what they are actually doing.

Indirect But Subconsciously Strong

As we mentioned before in the article, these types of advertisements are silent and much more effective than regular ones. It is quite evident from the society that we live in. We are most probably a collectivist society and we love to have status to show off. If we see a movie star do something, we are most likely to mimic it. This raises questions about whether brands can pay movie makers to make them do certain activities.

If code is something that scripts machines then it can be clearly said that media is something that scripts human beings. Balaji Srinivasan said in a report that he shared on Twitter that media is what scripts human beings. It is thus, whoever controls the media, controls the mind or can control the mind. Media here is any sort of media, it can be print media, a film, a piece of content on youtube, or anything that can hold attention for a significant amount of time.

Wayne's world super product placements.

Problems with Product Placement

Imagine being a trusted brand and then losing all the trust that you generated from all the years of hard work. That is so bad but most easy to happen. Imagine cinema and over-the-top content giants selling screen time to brands for product placements. This little rash on the smooth road to great revenues can derail the growth train. People could just boycott anything that feels like backstabbing.

When we watch a movie we don't think or expect that we will be interrupted by an advertisement or a brand showcasing their product. We go to theatres carefree as we pay for that sort of entertainment. If moviemakers dilute this excitement for us by including ads in the movie then it can most likely spoil the mood of many cinephiles.

However, Netflix clearly mentions that it does not allow brands to show anything or any sort of advertisements on their show, there are many unnoticed instances of them being caught with product placement. Well, according to the reports, Netflix one hundred per cent refuses the question of “Product placement”, and they will never cheat the paying user base. As we know that Netflix is a paid or subscription-based platform and if its users find it selling advertisements to them, this can lead to a huge slowdown. The company always says that it supports and protects user rights and works with dignity, no brand has ever paid anything to Netflix for any sort 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.


Which TV show has the most product placement?

A study conducted in early 2022 found that the U.S. version of “The Office” was the TV show with the highest number of product placements worldwide.

Does Netflix use product placement?

Since Netflix doesn't sell advertising, the most common way that brands get into Netflix originals is through product placement. Brands and agencies work directly with the productions to place products in Netflix shows, similar to other streaming shows.

Does Coca-Cola use product placement?

Coca-Cola is one of the most visible brands in Movies and TV. Coca-Cola has a relatively long list of product placement appearances. One of its most obvious plugs is in American Idol, one of the most popular shows on American television that hosts a competition to find new solo singing talents.

What are the 3 types of product placement?

There are many ways of using product placement on TV: it can be physical, virtual, seen but not used, mentioned, contextual or even unbranded.

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