Product Placement: Peeling Back the Layers of Entertainment’s Favorite Characters

Product placement helps tell important stories. Read how brands can help drive a narrative forward in pivot scenes. 

Forrest Gump holding a pair of Nike running shoes.

In his Academy Award-winning role in Forrest Gump,”Tom Hanks puts on a pair of Nike Classic Cortez, the brand’s first track shoe. He goes on to run for a total of three years, two months, 14 days, and 16 hours. The shoe becomes emblematic of Forrest’s ability to triumph over whatever obstacle comes his way, often with a smile on his face. 

Product placement can drive character development in a variety of compelling content like Buick’s season-long alignment with the HBO hit series Big Little Lies. What better way to quickly establish Madeline’s character, played by Reese Witherspoon, as the “It Girl” of the affluent suburban moms in Monterey? Her new Buick served as a status symbol and gave viewers context into her lifestyle. 

Learn more about how integrations define some of the entertainment industry’s most beloved characters in feature films, TV series, and beyond. 

Get an Inside Look into Key Characters

Right off the bat in Atlanta season one, viewers get to know more about the lead character Earn by his drink choice. Earn plans to order a beer, but after hearing drinks are “gratis”, he decides to treat himself and asks the bartender for a Hennessy and Grand Marnier. This showcases the character’s rising social status as a singer, learning to treat himself to the finer things in life. Through this integration, fans get an inside look into Earn’s evolution as a character as he hobnobs with agents, managers, and lawyers for the rich and famous.

While a liquor choice showcases Earn’s rise to fame and fortune, Eggos’ Stranger Things placement served a different purpose. The show’s main character Eleven is obsessed with Eggo Waffles, so much so that the character risks her own freedom to get her hands on a box of them. The character’s extreme love for waffles illustrates her innocence and also connects her with fans who can all relate to a childlike obsession with a favorite snack, toy, or other sentimental item. 

Bring Some Brand Personality into Character Development

Chime strategically timed an ABC Grown-ish integration with its 2019 brand relaunch. During the show, a main character receives financial aid funding after years of stressing about money. Now stress-free, he playfully flashes his Chime card throughout a spending spree on campus. Not only did this define the character as a realistic college student strapped for cash, in a playful light, but the placement also helped the brand reinvent itself as a more relatable, credit-building tool to help people—like spontaneous college students—rebuild their credit.

Product placement helps tell important stories. Read how brands can help drive a narrative forward in pivot scenes. 

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