Product placement in pop culture: like Reeses Pieces in ET The Extraterrestrial

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Over the past century, product placement has become a mainstay of film and television. Just look at Nike’s partnership with 2021’s ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’. According to a brand tracking agency, the brand received more than $94 million in ad value generated from the film, most of all movies in 2021.

While some brands maintain incredibly strict standards for how their products can be used in media, it’s undeniable that the digital age presents more opportunities for strong product placement than ever before. Streaming, for example, has made product placement more appealing because it’s a type of ad that can’t be muted or skipped without users paying a premium to skip the ad. But as this form of advertising continues to evolve, it’s worth examining the precedents that have brought product placement to this point.

Giving Assistant has compiled seven notable examples of product placement throughout media history, using a variety of sources. It should be noted that not all products featured in the media are listed here. It’s often difficult to discern whether product placement was a stylistic choice for designers or paid promotion. Therefore, paid product placement is not a requirement to be included in this list.

These examples were chosen to show a wide variety of media, as well as iconic product placements. The order was determined based on the media’s original release date.

From movies to video games and everything in between, here are seven notable product placement milestones.

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