The numerous Apple Macbook product placements in this week's new #1 film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, are especially noteworthy since it's clear the filmmakers went to pains to avoid showing other brands.
Instead of identifiable real brands, the producers inserted generic products like "Creamy" brand peanut butter and "Ice Up" soft drinks.
In fact, the prominence of Apple's roles in Wimpy Kid 2 make the brand's claims about not paying for product placement increasingly difficult to believe. The person who might know? Peter Cummings, the film's credited product placement coordinator, who evidently spent a great deal of time "placing" one major brand — Apple.
He also placed a few other brands in Wimpy Kid 2: Chevrolet, Doritos, Ford, Google, Quiksilver, Samsung, Snickers, Tostitos, Twix, VTech, and YouTube. But it was Apple’s — and the no-name generic — branded products that stood out the most.
Less prominent, but just as effective as Apple in using product placement for marketing are the gun brands in this week's box office runner-up, Sucker Punch.
Other than Zippo, Sucker Punch appears to be a film free of product placement — but it's just the latest in a well-stocked tradition of scantily clad heroine films that double as "sex-sells" advertising for gunmakers.
"Well after seeing Tomb Raider back in like 98 or whenever i started to think Man .... I need me a HK USP Match and not only that but i need 2 of them RIGHT NOW. i have been on the hunt ever since... Me and 2000 other people becuase you cant find them anymore and when you do they want 3grand for them.. So i managed to get a regular hk usp stainless steel 9mm for around 500$ with only 200 rounds down the pipe and after searching high and low i got the weight for 220$ and a new Jarvis 9mm barrell for it for 175$.."
That was a verbatim post by a commenter, "Knuther," on an online car fan forum. The "HK USP Match" refers to a brand of gun made by Heckler & Koch used by Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider films.
Any time an action movie prominently features firearms, message boards across the web inevitably light up discussing the brands. For example, here is the Heckler & Koch HKPRO forum discussing well over 200 various films and TV shows.
When sexy starlets unleash the lead, the action is usually so stylized that the brands are even more scrutinized. After Kate Beckinsdale vamped it up in Underworld and its sequel, double-fist blasting away with Walther P99s, the Walther forum approved: "Damn, I want a full size Walther to join my compact and SW99."
Glock, a brand we gave a product placement Lifetime Achievement award to in our annual Brandcameo Product Placement Awards, is so aware of the power of its onscreen roles that it dedicated a whole section ("Rock Out With Your Glock Out") of its 2011 edition of Glock Autopistols, a special edition glossy magazine put together by Glock marketing and published by Harris Publications ($4.95). The section notes the gun's role in the 2010 film Salt, adding "Angelina Jolie sure does love GLOCKs."
This idea of combining sex to sell guns is hardly novel. The appeal is so dumb and obvious that anyone not at least aware of it is maybe him — or herself — a little dense. For example, this 46-second Maxim "Hotties Shooting Guns" video has 14 million views. That's fourteen. Million.
At the larger gun shows, booth babes are a common sight.
And it is hardly rare to find manufacturers of guns and gun products using this appeal.
Recently, when a former beauty pageant contestant used a pink .38 handgun to shoot an intruder in her Florida house, she immediately had pin-up photos taken of herself with the hopes of securing a sponsorship with the National Rifle Association or Smith & Wesson.
Sucker Punch demonstrates some exceptional marketing on behalf of gunmakers. The intrepid gun fans at Internet Movies Firearms Database (IMFD, natch) have already identified an arsenal of brand names from the film's trailers alone, including Heckler & Koch and Remington.
The "charms" seen dangling off the heroine's pistol in the film? Already available for purchase on Etsy.
But one gun brand is getting a product placement from the film without ever even appearing in it.
In numerous interviews talking about her character Amber, Sucker Punch co-star Jamie Chung mentions that she is "a pilot and so I have a Glock" and that "as a pilot, I have a standard Glock handgun." In interview after interview, Chung mentions the Glock.
Except, the Amber character never shoots a gun in the movie and the Glock only appears on her character poster.
Just what is that kind of advertising worth to the Glock brand? Especially considering it didn't pay a penny.
Hollywood's role as the unpaid advertising agency of the globe's gun brands is the primary reason that, despite the profession's penchant for social causes, one is hard pressed to find an actor of any renown who lobbies for gun control.
The few who do come out as gun control advocates look pretty hypocritical. George Clooney, for instance, has quietly supported gun control. Meanwhile, here's a thread discussing the Ruger from his recent film, The American.
For all the brands in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, visit our Brandcameo product placement database.