Product Placement

Product Placement is defined as the advertising practice of strategically placing products in movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games so that the products appear as part of a story’s set environment (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017). It is used by marketing departments in companies to pair a certain product with a form of media to create a relationship between the form of media and product in the mind of consumers. Examples happen extremely often, with varying levels of success for the companies enacting the product placement. The attraction of product placement to marketing departments is because the showcasing of the brand or product directly connects to the viewers, rather than scenarios like a commercial on television or radio where the viewer can change the channel or fast forward through the commercial. There are four types of product placement: classic placement, corporate placement, evocative placement, and stealth placement (Kramolis, Drabovka, 2012). Classic placement is the original product placement technique which is somewhat subtle, corporate placement uses the brand rather than a specific product, evocative placement is discreet and the brand or product appears but is not explicitly mentioned, and stealth placement is highly discreet but also usually perfectly integrated into the scene giving the placement a feel of authenticity (Kramolis, Drabovka, 2012).

Product Placement / Due Date

For educational use only.

This is a screengrab from the movie Due Date with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, where the two actors get into a car crash and in the slow-motion depiction of the car flipping over you see very deliberately a bag of Bugels and a box of Dunkin Donuts stay on the screen for a second or two as the car tumbles and wrecks. The brand Dunkin Donuts is referenced multiple times in the movie and Dunkin Donuts also paid to have product placement in many other films that same year. Some TV shows with the highest usage of product placement in 2011 were American Idol, with 577 occurrences of product placement in 39 episodes that year, The Biggest Loser, with 533 uses of product placement over 34 episodes, and Celebrity Apprentice, with 391 product place advertisements in just 12 episodes (Weinberger & O’Dell, 2012).

Product Placement and Fair Use

For educational use only.

This video is done by a Yotuber named Lindsay Ellis, who spent time working at an agency identifying and encouraging regular viewers to also notice product placement within tv shows. She uses great examples and breaks down the intricacies of product placement from the inside, giving regular people a perspective they would have otherwise lacked. This video would be greatly beneficial in educating students on how to spot product placement so as to be a more aware consumer.

While product placement seems like an effective strategy for marketing departments and harmless to viewers, there are criticism of the effects product placement can have. Some groups like the Commercial Alert organization which fights for disclosure of all product placement arrangements and notification of these product placements before their time on screen (, 2018). This group advocates for people to know when they are being advertised to and to avoid advertisements geared towards children. Another general criticism is that it can stagnate creativity in the writing of shows or films because a certain product placement advertisement must be included. Because of the influence of subliminal marketing within product placement, viewers and some creators of product placement advertisements are worried about the ethics behind this form of advertising.





Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: Mass communication in a digital age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.

Commercial Alert – Protecting communities from commercialism. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ellis, L. (2018, November 30). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from

Kramolis, J., & Drabkova, M. (2012). Types, Forms and Major Product Categories of Product Placement in the Czech Republic. Journal of Eastern Europe Research in Business & Economics, 1-11. doi:10.5171/2012.441984

Ralpherson, G. (2015, December 25). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from

Weinberger, J., & O’Dell, J. (2012, January 07). Here Are The 10 Primetime TV Shows With The Most Product Placement. Retrieved from



Written by Conner Cotting, 2018

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