Sold on film: product placement deals

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James Bond's carIf you have seen Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, you will know that 007 - after a lifetime of "shaken not stirred" vodka martinis - has started drinking Heineken.

The reason, of course, is that Heineken has paid a monstrous sum to be drunk by the world's most famous secret agent. Here is our pick of the top product placement deals.


What is product placement?
Product placement is basically a form of advertising that involves a brand or product - anything from a bottle of beer to a sports car - being featured in a film or on television.

Sex and the City fans, for example, should know that they were being seduced by the brands involved every time Carrie and her friends visited a big name fashion store or slipped into a pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Interestingly, the first examples of product placement were probably inadvertent. However, companies have now very much caught on to the fact that having their products appear on our screens can boost their sales.

Some deals cost many millions of pounds as a result, with Aston martin, for example, apparently paying $50 million (£31 million) for its cars to appear in James Bond films.

1. James Bond 007
James Bond films were some of the first to include high-end product placements - partly due to the huge budgets required to create them and partly due to the fact that companies know the films are likely to be box office hits.

The $50 million reportedly paid by Aston Martin and Ford to have their cars shown in Bond films remains one of the largest sums of money ever to change hands on a product placement deal - even though the cars in the more recent films have mostly been BMWs.

The BMW Z3, for example, was introduced in 1996, a year after being featured in GoldenEye.

And orders for the car came pouring in within weeks of the film being released. Cars and beer are not the only products to appear in jame Bond films, though.

Watch maker Omega's first appearance was also in 1995's GoldenEye, when Bond wore the Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional.

Its investment in each film in which its watches appeared is reportedly between $7 million and $8 million.

2. Sex and the City
Manuel "Manolo" Blahnik Rodríguez is a 69-year old Spanish shoe designer who opened his first shop in Chelsea in the 1970s.

His shoes featured so often in the Sex and the City series that he was sometimes described as the fifth lead in the show.

The publicity helped to catapult Manolo Blahnik to international fame, but shoes are not the only product to benefit from the Sex and the City effect.

The main protagonist and narrator Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, writes her weekly column in her apartment using a Mac Powerbook. And Apple hasn't done too badly since then.

3. Top Gun
Top Gun was an iconic film that continues to have a huge impact on film lovers, despite dating from 1986.

In it, Tom Cruise - and his fighter pilot friends - wear Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses, and their loyalty to the brand helped to push Ray Ban sales up a massive 40% in the seven months following the film's release.

Cruise was used to wearing the shades by that time though - he also spent much of the 1983 Risky Business film with the Wayfarer model perched on his nose.

The appearances, which were joined by placements in Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and The Breakfast Club, were the result of a $50,000-a-year deal that Ray Ban signed with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, to place its sunglasses in movies and television shows.

It was a good move - by 1986 annual Ray Ban sales had jumped from just 18,000 a few years previously to 1.5 million.

4. Back to the Future
With its time travelling hero, the Back to the Future trilogy directed by Robert Zemeckis presented an opportunity to showcase different brands in different time periods.

Some brands, notably Pepsi and Nike, embraced the opportunity, although it is not known how much they paid for the privilege.

The trilogy of films begins in 1985 when Marty McFly is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a time machine built by eccentric scientist Emmett L. Brown, also known as "Doc".

However, the most interesting product placement occurred in the second movie, when Marty was sent to 2015. There he finds a Pepsi Perfect and special lace-free Nike shoes.

It remains to be seen whether the two companies will capitalise on this by releasing similar products when the year 2015 actually arrives.

5. The Italian Job
The original The Italian Job was a 1969 British film with Michael Caine in the leading role. Despite showcasing the original Mini, only a few cars were provided by the manufacturer BMC. The film production company even had to buy more itself.

However, when an American remake was shot featuring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton in 2003, the situation was very different.

Once again, Minis were used. And BMW was only too happy to provide 32 vehicles matching the specific requirements of the production.

It is not thought that any further money changed hands, but the investment in those 32 cars certainly seemed to pay dividends for BMW. Sales that year shot up by 22% on 2002.

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