Posted by Abe Sauer on April 1, 2010 01:53 PM
Many people are bent out of shape today over last night's episode of the sitcom Modern Family. In fact, while some news organizations are calling it "essentially a half-hour-long plug for the iPad," others see the episode as "product placement done right." But both sides agree that the episode did indeed feature a plotline heavily centered on Apple's new device.
This flagrant product placement comes just days before the much-anticipated sales debut of Apple's latest "game changer." But to anyone who reads Brandcameo, that Apple would receive heavy (and largely free) onscreen promotion will come as no surprise. For the last decade, Apple has dominated the product placement sphere. It will continue.
Brandchannel's weekly product placement tracking feature Brandcameo found an Apple logo or device in at least 18 of the top 44 films in 2009. That's almost 44 percent of the top movies. Brandcameo research shows that Apple has appeared in nearly one third of all number one US box office films in the last decade. That's more than any other brand except Ford. Furthermore, that data does not include television, were Apple has also been nearly as dominant.
Modern Family may have raised eyebrows this time, but television shows have been boasting Apple products for decades. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Veronica's Closet, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seinfeld, Ally McBeal, Dharma & Greg, The Drew Carey Show, Felicity, X-Files, and Just Shoot Me all featured Apple products. In fact, Modern Family is hardly TV's biggest current Apple product placement offender; the NBC show 30 Rock is often like a half-hour long Apple showcase.
While the question persists of whether or not product placement "works," it's indubitable that all of Apple's Hollywood screen-time, at very least, contributes to the brand's premium image.
While Apple once paid for and promoted its product placements, the brand is now more comfortable staying quiet about its largely free promotions. And yes, the product placement is largely free. Apple reaps this free placement thanks to cushy relationships with Hollywood professionals and camera-friendly sleek designs. Emblematic of just how koo-koo for Apple products Hollywood can be was the January Tweet by the directer of photography for the show 24: "Hmmmm looks like we may get an iSlate into Jacks hands for Ep 20 getting giddy with excitement." That was before anyone even knew the "iPad" nomenclature.
As long as Apple's Q rating stays through the roof, and its products represent a lifestyle as much as a simple device, expect its product placement dominance to continue.