Avatar is the number one film for a second continuous week, meaning the year will end with the sci-fi tale dominating box office numbers. As brandcameo noted, though Avatar is groundbreaking in the realm of special effects, from a product placement perspective, the film is forgettable. Director James Cameron created an alternative future where brands were not just unimportant, but largely nonexistent. And that’s noteworthy because a quarter century ago, Cameron was a product placement pioneer.[more]
Cameron’s first blockbuster, 1984’s The Terminator, would today draw complaints of gratuitous product placement. The film contains multiple shots of Nike, Gargoyles sunglasses, Keebler food products, and Jeep automobiles. Many of these shots focus directly on the brand, but the brandcameos are not without artistic merit. In fact, Cameron uses the brands as a story-telling device, as he did in Avatar with t-shirts. Keebler brands represented the food choices of a hurried single person. Lingering shots of Reese’s Nike shoes highlight a character on the run. Jeep was chosen to underscore a rugged preparedness for an unsure future. And then there were those Gargoyles sunglasses.
The Gargoyles sunglasses brand owes its fame and fortune to Cameron’s Terminator. Following its appearance as Arnold’s shades of choice, sales jumped and Gargoyles became a brand popular with its intended target audience — any filmgoer who thinks destructive human-esque robots from the future are cool. A true product placement success story.
Select screenshots from The Terminator below: