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The art of product placement is supposed to incorporate the shift away from ‘in-your-face’ advertising to more subtle promotions. But at times product placement does the exactly opposite

Product placement has been around since the dawn of cinema. Although frowned upon at first, today it is considered the best option for brands to reach a target audience and increase consumer awareness of their product. The benefits for advertisers are obvious. Not only is it an enormous platform for their products, but product placement in film also works as the perfect medium to either consciously, or even unconsciously, attract audiences. This long-standing practice was once simpler. Advertising plainly meant, “Kraft Singles presents The Six O’Clock News,” and, as easy as that, people went out and bought Kraft Singles.

Now that we have slowly started to accept - or tolerate - product placement, and no longer want to listen to talking boxes imploring us to buy cheese, modern advertising has been challenged to innovate. However, in movies, there are still plenty of examples of advertisers trying too hard to sell their products. This is our list of some of the most obvious attempts ever seen on the big screen, and their effect on sales.

1) Pepsi One and The Thomas Crown Affair

Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, product placement remained essentially the same, with companies paying huge amounts of money for their products to prominently feature on the big screen. In a scene from the 1999 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, Rene Russo’s character, portrayed as a health-is-wealth type, gulps down a can of Pepsi (PEP) One.

The scene takes product placement a bit too seriously - the action and dialogue of the movie come to a grinding halt as we wait the sixty seconds it takes Catherine (Russo) to finish her drink. It’s a minute we’ll never get back. The movie’s impact on the drink’s sales is unknown, but a few years later, Pepsi One vanished into obscurity.

2) Reese’s Pieces and E.T.

Prior to its release, Steven Spielbergwas looking for a partnership with a candy company that could promote his 1982 classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. M&M’s were selected at first, but the suits at Mars, Inc. refused to advertise for the alien romp, and so The Hershey Company (HSY) was approached as a replacement.

The Hershey Company signed an agreement to produce a million dollars’ worth of advertisement for the film. They figured that making an alien eat their Reese’s pieces ......continue reading


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