Apple: The Master of Product Placement

Collin Smith

Twitter: @Real_CSmith



From the early days of its colorful iMacs to the new age of the iPad, Apple has been dominating product placement across hit television shows and blockbuster movies for well over a decade. It was reported that in 2011, Apple products were in 40% of movie box office hits. It was also reported that Apple products appeared in 891 TV shows that same year. While those are both staggering numbers, it is the cost Apple pays to have product placement in those shows that is even more staggering.

One of Apples big marketing secrets is that it pays nothing to have product placement across those TV shows and movies. Apple has one designated employee who is in constant contact with Hollywood executives to place its products in their productions. Instead of paying a a base fee, Apple simply distributes large amounts of their products such as iPads, iPhones and even MacBook laptops to be used in scenes. Apple ends up paying the base costs of those devices for their product to reach the eyes of million’s of viewers while positioning their products in a positive and cool way. One would believe that those product placements should be worth a significantly larger value and below is the estimated value of a few of their product placements in hit blockbuster films.


As you can see above the estimated value reaches close to $50 million dollars for just eight movies alone. It is fair to assume that over many years that Apple is avoiding billions of dollars in product placement costs. Probably the key behind avoiding costs is the authenticity of their product placements. Authenticity is defined as quality of genuineness or naturalness. Their products feel natural in the scenes they are in and never seemed forced. They don’t usually demand the spotlight and are highlighted by the action of a character in the scene. An example can be seen in this clip from Modern Family below

Not once in that clip is the product mentioned or highlighted on its own. It is shown in a humorous manner and one we as consumers can identify with. Apple is writing the rule book in the sense that product placements need to be moved away from shameless plugs and towards natural uses in Hollywood. Once brands begin to adopt a similar approach that they can also enjoy the similar benefits of “free” product placement.