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Product Placement in Movies

Posted in Branding, Marketing

- Anjali Shankar, Attorney -

As someone fascinated by the movie industry, I am always curious about product placement in movies. I wonder how strategic the placement of a product is. Sometimes product placements can be rather ostentatious, as in “The Devil Wears Prada,” where fashion is central to the movie’s plot, and other times it is much more subtle.

In the movie “Flight,” Denzel Washington portrays a pilot who drinks heavily. Liquor companies were unhappy about the product placements. Anheuser-Busch asked Paramount Pictures to obscure the Budweiser logo in the film because Washington’s character is seen drinking behind the wheel. Paramount allegedly did not ask for permission to use the beer in the film. Other brands, such as Stolichnaya vodka, were also represented in the film and the makers of some of these products shared Anheuser-Busch’s resentment at the placement.

It seems unlikely that the liquor companies would have much success, however, as generally products may be placed in films, even without companies’ approval, as long as there is some artistic relevance. The makers of the “Slip ‘N Slide” found this out the hard way when they unsuccessfully sued the makers of the 2003 film “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.” The moral of the story? When it comes to movies, sometimes product placements just come with the territory.