There are many rules and regulations in place to prevent movie studios from filling their films with advertisements. Nothing actually prevents you from doing it during the production stage. It is when you come to distribute the thing that you will run into problems, as cinema and TV uptake will prevent most of the major corporations from agreeing to showcase it. This is usually down to contracts binding them to endorsements of their own. But in most cases you can work around that. Like with clever product placement…

And sometimes it’s pretty darn impossible to make something like The Lego Movie (2014) without making it quite clear that the movie is telling kids they should fill their toy boxes full of Lego. But if the movie is good, and in this case it certainly was, then the studios won’t care. Any resulting sales and further success to the product, will mean it takes care of itself.


But what about those other, slightly more subtle moments that attempt to burn a registered trademark onto your retina without your consent? We’ve got some pretty decent examples for you here, you should be careful who you trust in future (PLEASE BUY COCA-COLA):

Converse in I, Robot (2004)

The perfect example, this shows you how not to place a product. The story is that in 2035, police detective Del Spooner does not trust modern technology and it is key to the plot, with his suspicion that humans should not trust robots with their lives. But does that mean he has to bark on about how cool the 2004 Converse shoe was? I’d have much preferred to see him using an old typewriter, hunt down some classic vinyl records or maybe even ride a penny farthing, that would have been a laugh.

FedEx and Wilson in Castaway (2000)

It’s a nice sentiment and all, that the delivery man stays true to company policy even in the most extreme of circumstances but did they have HAVE to use a real company for this? I’m actually going to say YES. It adds a layer of reality to the story as it was such a ridiculous storyline, I actually had to find out if it was based on a true story after seeing it for the first time. Turns out it ain’t. But I include it on the list because the Wilson ball (albeit makes for a good pet name) did NOT have to carry a product name, unless the studio were otherwise offered millions of dollars.


I am going on record right here, right now, to state that I unconditionally love Mr Tom Hanks, but with big budget flicks comes some shameless product plugging so it’s worth noting that he has good form for it. We present the following evidence to the jury:

  • Forrest Gump (1994): Apple Computers. Verdict: this is allowed as it is very in keeping with the theme of the film. All as we watch Forrest’s life directly affecting significant world events.
  • Toy Story (1995): Toy tie-ins. Verdict: we’ll allow these and they make the possibility of our toys talking that little bit more real.
  • That Thing You Do (1996): Playtone Record Label. Verdict: the label is actually an homage to the film as a result of it’s success. It was founded by Tom Hanks to release the soundtrack to this, his directorial debut feature film. Therefore similar to Spielberg’s Amblin logo including the silhouette of the flying bike from ET?
  • You’ve Got Mail (1998): AOL. Verdict: this is less forgiving as it wasn’t necessary to move the story forward. Although it dominated the worldwide market as an Internet provider and for online chatrooms, the average Joe was still a technophobe back in ’98. A fictional provider could easily have been used instead.

Nike in Back To The Future Part II (1989)

The original sci-fi movie advertising shoes, but at least this one was pretty cool. I’m still waiting for this exact design to hit the shelves, at a reasonable price.


Did you click on the Coca-Cola link at the top? Haha forgive me, I blame Wayne’s World (1992) and this extended clip will explain more…