Five best things about paid ads in film
23.05.2022 | Pen&Production

We are celebrating 10 years at Pen&Production! There are many ways to celebrate and we decided to do it the way we do it best - by working. That's why we're bringing you the next installment of our monthly newsletter. At Bystro, this time we focused on product placement in films. Pour yourself a drink to toast our round-up and read up on the "top five" paid ads in the film industry.

The most expensive

Do you want to be like Superman? Wear Warby Parker glasses, make Nokia cell phone calls, drive a Chrysler, drink Budweiser, use Gillette razors and much more. More than 100 global companies have cast their products or logos in the 2013 superhero flick Man Of Steel. The product placement brought the filmmakers a total of $160 million, a pretty substantial amount out of the $225 million budget. The film eventually grossed nearly $670 million at the box office alone. So the filmmakers were happy, audiences were generally positive about the film, and even the fashion critics were pleased, as Superman finally stopped wearing briefs over his overalls.


If we were to search through history, we would find the first signs of product placement as early as the 19th century. For example, as early as 1873, the Transport and Shipping Company lobbied to appear in Julius Verner's novel Around the World in 80 Days. About 10 years later, Edouard Manet drew a work depicting a bar with bottles of Bass beer. The first film product placement came with the very first film and the Lumiere brothers. Their images were made at the request of a representative of Lever Brothers (a soap manufacturer) and, coincidentally, a Sunlight soap also appeared in the film. Whether or not the artists mentioned above were paid for the products in their works, we will probably never know.

Best known

For us, definitely James Bond and Aston Martin. Fast cars may not be our speciality, but this more than 50-year collaboration must have been noted by the owner of a Fiat Multipla. It all started in the book and continued in the film. The iconic model is the DB5, which was driven by the first Bond, Sean Connery, in 1964 (see attached video). The car has appeared in perhaps eight Bond films, including the last bit of No Time to Die, we call it a partnership. And one fun fact at the end, Pierce Brosnan, who drove an Aston Martin Vanquish as Bond, claimed the car for free for his own private use. After some minor hysterical scenes, he eventually got the luxury car, but it doesn't have a good ending. The car burned down along with his house in 2015.


1986, a young Tom Cruise and the highest-grossing film of the year, Top Gun. It was in this film that Maverick, a successful naval pilot, wore Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses. All of this was enough to boost the brand's sales of "pilots" by 40 percent after the film's release. But that's not the most interesting fact. The Pentagon was also involved in the financing of the film. The goal was to portray the U.S. Naval Air Force in the best possible light; simply put, it was a recruitment film. The intent was successful, the Navy even set up booths in major theaters to take advantage of the film's enthusiastic and adrenaline-fueled potential enlistment. After the film's release, the number of applicants for jobs in the U.S. Air Force increased by 500%. How many of them ended up flying a real fighter jet is anyone's guess.

Most Original

In our opinion, the king of film product placement is Quentin Tarantino. Which brands has he worked with, you ask? None. Instead of giving space to existing companies, he promotes fictional brands. For example, the famous cigarette brand Red Apple has appeared in at least seven films, starting with Pulp Fiction and ending with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In the latter, we even learn that the fictional tobacco company was founded in 1862. In short: All the cigarettes ever smoked in Tarantino films are of this brand. And if the main character isn't exactly a smoker, like in Kill Bill, he might just walk past a billboard for said brand.

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