A Spotlight on the King of Product Placement: Apple products in American film productions

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Product placement is an evolving practice in which new, innovative ways of advertising are constantly demonstrated. Because of technological innovations as streaming services, product placement is becoming an increasingly important method of advertising for companies. Apple has been deemed “the King of Movie Product Placements”, and is therefore a tremendously informative subject to investigate in relation to the practice. Therefore, this thesis aims to answer the research question: “In what ways are Apple products represented in American film productions?”. Drawing on Russell’s study that product placements are transformational advertisements, the research question is answered by subjecting three case studies (Modern Family “Game Changer” TV series episode, the documentary Catfish and the movie Wall-E) to Puto and Wells’ transformational advertising model. This model consists of four dimensions (personal relevance, empathy, informational and executional) from which a product placement’s effectiveness is derived, therewith allowing this thesis to shed a light on the practice of product placement from various perspectives. The results of the analyses on the basis of these dimensions reveal that every case study utilizes every dimension of the transformational advertising model in their own, distinguishing manner. Each of the case studies reflect the evolution of the practice by demonstrating innovative ways of the products’ placement. This evolution is bound to continue as Apple is launching their own streaming service and film productions. Future research should therefore focus on the way in which Apple products are placed in their own film productions, subjecting them as case studies to the same analysis as in this study.
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