Illustrating a systematic approach to selecting motion pictures for product placements and tie-ins

Ignacio Redondo
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Morris B. Holbrook
Columbia University

An unprecedented proliferation of product placements and campaigns tied to motion pictures occurred during the 1980s and early 1990s (Wasko et al. 1993). Indeed, such diverse advertising activities are frequently interconnected because, as a form of compensation, placement deals often involve commitments to extensive joint- or cross-promotional tie-in campaigns (Turcotte 1995; Russell & Belch 2005). Both placements and tie-in campaigns continued to grow during the subsequent decade until, by 2008, the use of films as an advertising medium has become broadly institutionalised. Thus, the widespread practice of product placement has fostered an industry of its own (Wenner 2004) practised by more than 100 companies internationally (Nelson 2004). According to records available on, an average of 18 brands were placed in the roughly 200 top movies released between 2001 and 2005. With regard to movie-related tie-in campaigns, the deal between Warner Brothers and the Coca-Cola Company provides a much-publicised example, in which Coke reportedly paid US$150 million in 2001 for the exclusive global rights to use Harry Potter to promote its soft drinks. Warner Brothers, which paid US$500,000 in 1999 for the property's worldwide licensing rights, has recruited numerous licensees who market around 400 different products tied to Harry Potter in the United Kingdom alone (Brown 2005). Extending this example, in the US and Canada, retail sales of licensed products with links to entertainment reached US$12.7 billion in 2006 (EPM Communications 2007).