Products that the Film Industry Helped Make Big

May 7, 2016 by

Film is a medium with incredible persuasive power. The ability to combine sounds and images together in a dynamic fashion is still something that is relatively new to human civilization, and it is still something that we are discovering the effects of. As any lover of cinema can tell you, the movies haven’t always been used in the best of ways, and certainly not with an attitude that begets artistic integrity. The most egregious examples of this are when films are used to try and sell something, oftentimes without the audience even being explicitly aware of it. These examples range from relatively innocent moments of product placement, such as a can of coca cola, to larger cultural trends, such as objectifying certain body types. Here is some examples of products and ideas that the film industry has helped make huge…

Woman in film

Reese’s Pieces

The most charming example of an enormously successful product placement is in the 1982 blockbuster E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. In the film, there is a scene where the main boy, Elliott, shares a small piece of candy with his alien friend. The candy they used was Reese’s Pieces, but it wasn’t an accident. Hershey’s, the owners of Reese’s Pieces, offered the film’s producers $1 million in free advertising to use their candy in the film. At the time, this was a huge amount to pay for product placement. However, it’s hard to argue that the price was too high, as Reese’s Pieces sales soared 65% after the film came out, and continue to be an iconic piece of movie history. Because of this use of product placement, Reese’s Pieces are forever associated with a widely beloved film, which is an investment that will pay off long after it is made.


Since the early years of Hollywood’s Golden Age, cigarettes and tobacco have been a widely used way for actors to use their hands in a dialogue scene. However, this wasn’t by circumstance. Tobacco companies long saw the value in using the allure and prestige of motion pictures to glorify their product to consumers. According to Stanton Glantz from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, “It was a way to thoroughly embed tobacco use in the social fabric.” Although the most notorious deals that tobacco companies made with Hollywood production companies were in the 1930’s and 40’s, this practice continued well up to the 1990’s, where smoking reached an all-time high public health hazard, despite people being more conscious of its negative health effects than they were in the 1930’s.

Smoking Cigarette


Another relatively innocent example of product placement is in the 1983 film Risky Business, where the incredibly charming and likable Tom Cruise-character, Joel Goodsen, frequently sports a pair of classy Ray-Bans Wayfarer’s. At the time, the company was incredibly down on its luck, and on the verge of cutting the brand of sunglasses altogether. However, Risky Business was a huge success, not only for the film, but also for the Ray-Bans brand. The company has acknowledged that nearly 400,000 pairs of their luxury sunglasses sold because of the success of this film.

Sexual objectification

Perhaps one of the most damaging effects that movies have on the general population is not in its ability to place importance on dangerous products, such as cigarettes, but in its ability to remove the importance of intimacy and connection with things that should have it. Primarily, we have seen this frequently in the way that much of the film industry shows sex. Although this isn’t always the case, there is a frightening tendency towards objectification that is used in much of pop culture, when it comes to the topic of sex, and particularly of women. This has contributed to a culture of objectification, because our media is displaying that instead views sex as a positive and intimate activity. For more information about how the media has contributed to the glorification of sexual objectification, check out this powerful article here.

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