According to the World English Dictionary, product placement is the practice of a company paying for its product to be placed in a prominent position in a film or television program as a form of advertising.
I came across a blog published in 2008 that list The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History. The blog, written by Jeff Steinbrunner from Cracked.com, describes a handful of past films that “disastrously stepped over the line” when it came down to product placements practically starring as a character.
One of my personal favorite films mentioned on the list is Steven Spielberg’s 1982 science-fiction flick E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. The product used was Hershey Reese’s Pieces.
For those who have not seen the film or for the who have forgotten, the main character, Elliot, coaxes the abandon alien to his house by strategically arranging a trail of Reese’s Pieces candy. According to Cracked.com, the choice of candy was made months prior to production when Spielberg looked for a partnership with a candy company that would guarantee promotion for his film. Hershey made an agreement to produce a million dollars’ worth of film advertisements and they placed E.T.’s face on the candy’s packaging.
Here's a Reese's commercial celebrating the 20th anniversary release of the film. Twenty years later, and the candy still has an association with the film!
This brings me to some questions: Do you think product placement makes or breaks a movie? Does product placement annoy you or do you tend to not even notice the product advertised in a film?