Some people estimate that product placement started in the 1930s with movie directors filming in their favorite restaurants; others estimate it all really began with the promotion of Reese’s Pieces in the beloved film, ET.  In either case, we’ve seen it done in movies and television for years now and with more and more people using TiVo and other DVR technology to skip commercials, it was only a matter of time before video games, music and books became popular outlets for advertising.  Here are some notes on each category:

Video Games

  • CMCH Researcher David Bickham‘s earliest video game product placement memory was of a British Knights (shoes) "billboard" in the background of basketball game Arch Rival from 1990.
  • These days, not only are the graphics more advanced (thus able to translate logos and branding better), but Electronic Arts, a leading video game publisher, has just announced a new in-game ad technology.  Now, ads can be updated by advertisers through the Internet, allowing them to rotate messages within ad campaigns or between different products.


  • More and more there are products mentioned in Top 40 Songs.  The Black Eyed Peas’ lyrics are full of product mentions; fashion companies Fendi, Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, and Seven Jeans are all mentioned in the first verse of My Humps; and Grey Goose (vodka) appears in Fergie’s latest song, London Bridge. 
  • In 2002, Pass the Courvoisier by Busta Rhymes even had the product right there in the title!  This mention instantly boosted Courvoisier sales in the US and in Europe while bringing a drink previously associated with an older, wealthy and white generation of men into a younger urban culture.


  • The latest example of product placement is Cathy’s Book, where Procter & Gamble made a deal with authors to include various Cover Girl products in the book in exchange for promotion on its teen girl website.
  • Product placement in books is occuring not only on the pages between the covers, but in fact, on the covers themselves and even in the titles! Recent titles in the "chick-lit" genre: The Devil Wears Prada, The Bulgari Connection, and The Bergdorf Blondes.

In writing this post, I came across the website, where one feature is to review the product placements in a top-grossing movie each week. 

You can find research on product placement in the CMCH Database of Research.

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