Most Product Placement in a Top Film for 2010 ... And the Award Goes To?

apple iPads selling well - product placementThe biggest name in movies will be missing from the red carpet on Oscar night even though it had more work in No. 1 hit films than Brangelina and Jeff Bridges combined.

In the category of highest number of appearances for a product or brand in blockbuster hit movies, the award goes to ... Apple. Again. According to New York-based branding resource, Brandchannel, the coveted iProducts scored cameo appearances in 30% of the 33 films that hit number one at U.S. box offices in 2010.Receiving the Brandcameo Award for Overall Product Placement for the second year in a row, Apple products earned the most "discernible appearances" in No. 1 films in both 2010 and 2009. That's not counting the more than 50 films that didn't hit No. 1. Remember: Morning Glory, Vampires Suck, Hot Tub Time Machine, Cats and Dogs 2? Sometimes it's not the role, it's what you do with it.

With its placement in 2010's Toy Story 3, The Other Guys and Kick Ass, Apple products beat out runners-up Chevrolet, Ford and Nike for the honor. In fact, over the past decade Apple has appeared in more films than McDonald's and Nike combined. If Colin Firth could have used an iPad to write his speech, he would have.

Apple did not respond to WalletPop's request for comment on the award. Ah, celebrities.

In spite of the win, Apple's victory marked a slip in the amount of screen time logged by the mega-brand in 2010. Brandchannel attributes its slide to increased competition. "Inevitably, other brands are taking a page from [their] playbook and aping Apple's product-placement strategy," explains the Brandchannel blog, "Films that previously would have been dominated by Apples are now filled with HP, Dell and Sony Vaio logos."

Going one step further, Brandchannel reports Sony Pictures has attempted to banish Apple products entirely from its movies, replacing them with its own Vaio brand instead.

In other categories, Iron Man 2 walked away with Brandcameo's 2010 Award for Achievement in Product Placement in a Single Film. Translation: a two-hour commercial with a plot. Showcasing more than 64 brands (up significantly from the 22 identifiable brands and products in the 2008 Iron Man) Brandchannel called it, a "brandstravaganza."

Massachusetts-based gun manufacturer, Glock, was presented with the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award for Product Placement having co-starred in movies big and small since the advent of crime films and shoot 'em up flicks. Brandchannel notes that Ashton Kutcher's 2010 film, Killers, devotes an entire scene to a Glock. Similarly, the 2011 edition of Glock Autopistols magazine gushes about the gun's role in Salt, "... when Angelina shares the screen with the Austrian super gun it's hard to know where to look." Maybe that was the problem.

So how does a product become a star in Hollywood? Like everything else in Tinseltown, it helps to have an agent. Or perhaps, more accurately an "entertainment marketing" guru. Cue Los Angeles-based Stacy Jones, president of Hollywood Branded Inc.

Responsible for getting brands like BlackBerry, Casio, Trojan, Pier 1 Imports, Dodge, Jim Beam and Fiji Water (to name a few) to guest star in film and television productions, Jones told WalletPop there are many paths to product placement.

In some cases, Jones says her team works closely with producers, reads scripts and procures appropriate merchandise for the movie. Sometimes the items are loaned, sometime they are rented, purchased at a discount or given in trade. For instance, Tom Cruise drinks Fiji Water on screen if Fiji provides bottled water for cast and crew while filming. Deal? Deal!

Bottom line, Jones says by negotiating product placement deals with brands, filmmakers stand to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead of purchasing necessary merchandise for the scenes, they will borrow them, or sometimes profit when companies pay to have merchandise appear on camera.

For example, Jones points to Nicole Kidman's new movie, Trespass. She explains that the film takes place in a glamorous luxury home that would have required a large budget to decorate. Instead, producers utilized product placement to drastically cut costs. Covet that couch? That enviable decor? It is all for sale.

In a world of DVRs and fast forwarding through commercials, good product placement can reach huge audiences of rapt, impressionable viewers.

In addition, there are myriad opportunities for joint advertising and marketing that go far beyond character toys in a Happy Meal.

No matter how the product gets onscreen, however, Jones says that it can't be shown without the full consent and approval of the manufacturer. Especially when the script calls for even a hint of negativity.

Prius wins that dubious distinction this year, awarded Brandcameo's 2010 Award for Best Role in a Supporting Product Placement. Although Prius drove away with more high-profile cameo roles than any other car, Chevrolet, Ford and Range Rover were actually shown more often.

Brandchannel writes, "What's unique about Prius product placement is that the car has become a shorthand for a certain kind of character, and (unfortunately for Toyota) a go-to punching bag for a quick laugh.... In three of the top 2010 films, Prius was referenced, and not lovingly."

Still, to quote Irish writer Oscar Wilde, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Whether you loved Angelina's sunglasses or hated them; whether you fancy yourself a Prius driver or not, movies encourage us to dream, and perhaps now more than ever -- to shop.

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