There is really only one brand to talk about in the prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and it raises some questions about this particular's brand's long-held claim that it does not pay for any product placement.
It isn't wildly obvious from the trailer…
…but Rise of the Planet of the Apes is packed with Apple product. MacBooks and iMacs fill scene after scene after scene in the film. In laboratories to home offices to everything in between, glowing Apple logos boom out at the audience.
Of the top 27 box-office-#1 films so far in 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the 13th to feature Apple product placement, that's nearly 50% of all top films featuring an Apple product.
Adjust that for films in which Apple could not reasonably appear (i.e., remove costume/period pics like True Grit and Pirates of the Caribbean), and that percentage jumps. And that number doesn't even count box office hits that didn't make #1, such as I am Number Four, Bridesmaids, The Dilemma and The Lincoln Lawyer, all of which prominently featured Apple-branded products.
According to our tracking of brand's in the #1 Hollywood films at the box office, Apple products appeared in more top films in 2009, 2010 and so far in 2011 than any other brand. In the last decade Brandchannel has tracked product placement, Apple is second only to Ford in appearances in the #1 Hollywood films.
At one time Apple was proud to flaunt its proactive involvement in product placement. Its executive in charge with product placement, Suzanne Forlenza, aggressively pursued placements in films such as Mission Impossible and Jurassic Park, and the brand took out ads to announce its partnership.
In fact, Apple.com once featured a page called "Starring Apple," but that has long since been disabled, indicating Apple's new stance on product placement, which is to deny involvement and not discuss it any more.
With that in mind, Apple press relatons did not return calls for comment. (In fact, Apple has repeatedly declined comment for pieces on product placement in the past.)
Asking for anonymity, two separate product placement professionals working in Hollywood told Brandchannel that there is simply no way Apple gets all of the product placement it does without paying for it somehow. They suggested that Apple either goes through direct relationships with the producers or through prop providers. Cash may not be changing hands, but Apple is certainly paying for the exposure somehow, such as in-kind consideration.
Even though the brand is unwilling to talk about it, Apple's close relationship with the filmmakers was evidenced in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On Thursday, Aug. 4th, a day before the film officially opened, a Twitter user whose bio is "Senior UI Designer at " tweeted, "Tonite free movie is "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Gracias, Apple. #jobperk" Another user tweeted "Watching the pre screening of planet of the apes with my lil sister. Thanks again apple :) I love my job."
What kind of placement deal or quid-pro-quo deal Apple has with Hollywood remains murky, but it's clear it's there.
Apple's strong presence is made even more noticeable by the fact that the rest of the film is largely void of identifiable products and brands. There's a passing UC Berkeley t-shirt here and a half-second flash of a Samsung logo there, but there are nearly more Apple placements in the film than all other products combined.
Ford Mustang made several interesting, and humbling, appearances, as the car model receiving repeated beatings:
Meanwhile, one other brand scores an interesting placement in Apes: Mirror Pond beer, a micro-brewed label from Bend, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery.
While the placement might not be enough to create skyrocketing sales, it is a nice little easter egg for fans of the craft beer. At least one fan who spotted the placement took the time to post on the brand's Facebook page.
Stay tuned for our interview with Jason Randles, Deschutes digital marketing manager, about the placement.
For all the brands in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, visit the Brandcameo product placement database.