Top 10 Product Placements in Movie History
A few months back, I saw that the first trailer for Jurassic World was released. As a huge fan of the original film, I immediately went to my computer to pull it up. The trailer opened with one of my favorite scenes from the original Jurassic Park, the can of Barbasol containing dino DNA slowly being covered up with mud. It wasn’t until I looked in my medicine cabinet the next morning and saw a can of Barbasol (minus the secret DNA compartment) sitting on the shelf that it hit me. In today’s society where entertainment is king, product placement can be amazingly effective. I then began seeing commercials and advertisements for “Collector Edition” Jurassic Park Barbasol cans and realized the potential that major consumer brands have within the entertainment industry.
With the largest opening weekend in movie history, Jurassic World set box office records both domestic ($208.8 million) and worldwide ($524 million). What better way to raise your brand awareness than partnering with a blockbuster film and exposing your brand to the masses? This got me thinking, what are the “Top 10 Favorite Products Placements of all Time?” Below is a list of my personal favorites:
10. Ray-Ban Sunglasses – Risky Business & Top Gun
Ray-Bans were originally worn by US Army Air Pilots in the 1930s and made popular throughout the ’50s by James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause) and the ‘70s by Peter Fonda (Easy Rider). However, it wasn’t until the ’80s that a lucrative placement deal was put in place for Ray-Bans to appear on the big screen. Tom Cruise took the brand to another level when he wore the infamous Wayfarers in Risky Business and the original Aviators in Top Gun.
9. Daisy’s Red Ryder BB Gun – The Christmas Story
All Ralphie wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder BB Gun. This remains one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time and come December, families still crowd around the television to watch this classic.
8. White Castle – Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
The entire movie centers around Harold and Kumar getting to White Castle for those small, little, delicious burgers. What better placement than having your store’s name in the actual title of the movie. This is a cult classic that still resonates with viewers today.
7. Luxury Automobiles – James Bond 007
From the introduction of the Sunbeam Alpine in the 1962 film, Dr. No, to the sleek and stylish Aston Martin DBS V12 in the 2006 film, Casino Royale, cars have played a large role in the James Bond films. Throughout the series, some of the most high end luxury vehicles outfitted with elaborate weapons and gadgets have played prominent roles.
The brand most associated with Mr. Bond is Aston Martin. The introduction of the Aston Martin DB5 was in the film Goldfinger. The DB5 is often regarded as the quintessential James Bond car. The films have featured numerous other brands including BMW, Jaguar, Bentley, Lotus, and Ford. Many of these models benefited greatly from product placement, seeing spikes in sales after the film’s release.
6. Pizza Hut, Pepsi and Reebok – Wayne’s World
Mike Meyers and Dana Carvy may be the only two actors who could’ve pulled off #6 on my list. Using comedic relief and actually making fun of the tactic, they made it a point to blatantly use product placement in Wayne’s World. However, in a way that only Wayne and Garth could, they made it work.
5. Nokia – The Matrix
The Matrix was released in 1999, the same time Nokia was introducing one of the first web-surfing phones in the country. In the movie, the Nokia 7110 phone was used as a portal through which Keanu Reeves (a.k.a Neo), entered the digital world of The Matrix. After The Matrix became a huge hit, so did Nokia’s 7110 phone.
4. Chevrolet Camaro – Transformers
In 2007, when Chevy decided to redesign its most popular American muscle car, their chief marketing officer, Tim Mahoney, teamed with film director, Michael Bay, to cast the yellow Camaro as Bumblebee in the new Transformers film. This was the perfect way for Chevy to promote the new Camaro, transform it into 25 foot Autobot.
3. Reeses Pieces – E.T.
One of the first major product placements in film history was the candy used to lure a shy little alien out from the woods. The spot was originally offered to M&Ms, but after passing on the offer, Reese’s Pieces jumped at the opportunity to help advertise their new peanut butter candy. As we all know, E.T. became a monster hit. While the exact amount of money that Hershey made off of Reese’s Pieces inclusion in the movie has never been calculated, it is estimated that they experienced a 70-80% increase in sales.
2. Wilson – Cast Away
In my opinion this was one of the most creative ways a product was ever used in film – Tom Hanks stranded on a deserted island for five years and his only friend and companion, a Wilson volleyball.
Wilson even manufactured its own volleyball with a replica of the bloodied handprint face on the side of the ball. It was sold for a limited time during the film’s release and is still offered on the company’s website.
1. Barbasol – Jurassic Park
This may not have been the most effective placement in terms of revenue generation, but to me, it was one of the most dramatic scenes involving a household product. According to a recent Washington Post article, John Price, a marketing vice president for Barbasol’s parent company Perio, called it “one of the most recognized brand integrations of all time.”
Going to Jurassic Park as a kid and seeing that Barbasol can slowly being covered with mud has always been engrained in my memory, knowing that in future movies that can filled with dino DNA would make another appearance.
I encourage everybody to share your favorite product placements in the comments section below!