What is product placement?

Product Placement is a marketing strategy where brands are seamlessly integrated into movies, television shows, music videos, video games, YouTube videos, live events, sporting events, and even celebrity endorsements.

Instead of the common type of advertisement where products are the main focus, in product placement brands are incorporated into narratives, which makes the promotional message less obvious and more immersive.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the following definition of product placement: “A way of advertising a product by supplying it for use in movies or television programs.”

Why use product placement?

There are compelling reasons why more people should opt for product placement as a marketing strategy:

  • Unobtrusive Advertising

Unlike traditional advertising, which can be seen as interruptive, product placement offers a subtler approach by seamlessly integrating products into the natural flow of narratives.

  • Bypass Ad-skipping

Nowadays, a lot of people have Adblock, which protects them from advert exposure. With product placement advertising, there is no option to skip these seamlessly integrated brand promotions.

  • Enhance Realism

If something is placed in a real-life situation, its usage or usefulness is more compelling and appealing. In other words, it feels more realistic.

  • Longevity

If you place a product in a movie or a TV show, it can gain exposure for many years or even decades.

Types of product placements

Types of product placement vary and include:

  • Visual

The product or logo is visible on the screen, but isn’t the main focus.

  • Audible

A brand or product is mentioned in dialogue.

  • Integrative

This type places the product at the core of the story or plot.

Product Placement - Reese's Pieces being eaten by ET in the Movie
Universal Pictures image adapted by Market Business News.

Some examples

Here are some examples of product placement:

  • Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was prominently featured as a sponsor on the American Idol TV show, with contestants often seen drinking Coke products.

  • Reese’s Pieces (peanut butter candies)

In the classic 1982 film E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Reese’s Pieces played a central role when the young protagonist Drew Barrymore used them to lure the friendly alien out of hiding.

  • Apple

Apple products frequently appear in movies and TV shows.

  • Aston Martin & Omega

In the James Bond movies, luxury brands like Aston Martin cars or Omega watches are prominently featured.

  • Prime

Logan Paul was at a NBA basketball game, and he was pictured with his hydration brand Prime.

  • Audi

In all three of the Iron Man films, Tony Stark can be seen using the latest Audi car.

  • Nike

Nike made a shoe design specifically for the Back to the Future films.

Video – What is Product Placement?


When considering product placement, there are many factors you have to take into consideration, such as:

  • Relevance

For a product placement to work, it has to fit into the story naturally. If the product is misplaced, it can feel forced and may distract the viewer, and perhaps even ruin the experience.

  • Oversaturation

Viewers may become overwhelmed by too many placements, which will undermine the impact of each individual brand.

  • Concerns

Growing concerns have arisen, especially when it comes to child audiences, who may unwittingly encounter brand exposure without realizing they’re being subjected to advertising. As a result, there has been a call for the establishment of clear guidelines and greater transparency in disclosures regarding these practices.

Written by Nicolas Perez Diaz, September 29, 2023.