How Apple Owns Hollywood, and Makes You Buy Its Products

Shay Meinecke 22-09-2015

Apple might not actually own Hollywood yet, but Apple products do get featured in a lot of Hollywood films. So much so that in 2014 the company reclaimed the top spot in Overall Product Placement as calculated by BrandChannel.


It seems that any film — no matter what genre — features an Apple product. Whether the movie is an action-packed thriller, an animated feature, or an anti-corporate film, Apple products are bound to appear.

There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. Apple is an iconic brand known for its unique designs Is Everyone Ripping Off Apple's Designs? [Opinion] Apple's products all have a certain look to them. Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive wouldn't have it any other way. The question is whether everyone is ripping off Apple's designs at this point in time... Read More . 2. Apple products are sold in the United States, China, South Korea, Europe, and throughout Africa. Essentially, anywhere you can think of, Apple already has a presence.

There may be a correlation between Apple’s design and being hip, smart, or edgy. We’re not sure, but there has certainly been a few movies based on Apple’s sleek design principles (I, Robot comes to mind).

What is true, is that Apple products are everywhere in the movies How James Bond Made Me Buy an Apple Watch Bond has always had a thing for watches. Indeed, some of the best gadgets Bond has ever used have been timepieces. Which means he would buy an Apple Watch. As will I. Read More . As we’re about to explore.


Apple Owns Wall-E

It could be said the entire Wall-E movie produced by Pixar was made to promote Apple, which wouldn’t be too far of a stretch.

In the beginning of the movie, Wall-E can be seen recharging himself with a solar panel and booting up with the iconic Apple start-up sound. He also uses an iPod Breathe New Life Into Your Classic Old iPod With These Top Tips We've all done it. You buy a shiny new piece of kit at an exorbitant price, and two years later it's in the back of a drawer collecting dust — alongside your old iPod. Read More to watch an old VHS tape through a VCR, which clearly isn’t possible.

The robot Wall-E falls in love with Eve, who also appears to be completely designed by Apple. She is seamless, shiny, and new – just like your favorite Apple products. Although this is more of a stretch, it is very plausible. And there might be a reason for all of this product placement.

In 1986, Steve Jobs became a major shareholder of Pixar. Under his direction, the computer animation film studio became a multi-billion dollar success. He had bought the film company for around $5 million in the mid 1980s and sold it many years later for around $7.4 billion. During that time the company produced many successful movies, most of which contained Apple product placements.


Blade: Trinity, All About iPods

Even a vampire killer can be seen using an Apple product.

Jessica Biel’s character Abigail can be seen loading her playlist on her iPod before going out to kill some vampires, which is obviously a necessity when fighting vampires, and a clear case of product placement. It doesn’t matter that she would have no way of hearing those blood-sucking vampires creeping up behind her. What matters here is that she needs to look cool and to listen to some tunes. We suspect she would love Apple Music Getting Started With Apple Music — What You Need to Know After the purchase of Beats last year, Apple has finally unleashed its streaming music service upon the world. Read More .

And it doesn’t stop there. Any time Biel’s character is seen with those iconic headphones it makes the viewer think of Apple, whether they want to or not. This movie is a clear guide to Apple’s product placement prowess.


Captain America: The Apple Soldier

During one particular scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson can be seen visiting an Apple store. The clip lasts for more than a minute and shows the pair using a MacBook to hack into S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division).

This product placement is just one of a number of times Apple was seen in top grossing movies in 2014. BrandChannel crunched the numbers to find that, “Apple products appeared in nine of the 35 films that topped the U.S. weekend box office in 2014, or about a quarter of all #1s”.

Transformers: Age of Apple

Another huge movie from 2014 that featured an obvious Apple product placement was Transformers: Age of Extinction.

You can clearly see the Apple-owned Beats Pill speaker in one of the scenes. And you don’t have to squint to find it. The portable Bluetooth speaker is placed front and center and even talked about by name in a really lame way. This particular example even won the “worst product placement” award by BrandChannel. There’s not even any attempt at subtlety here, and it’s kind of a shame.


What’s worse is that Age of Extinction featured a total of 55 brands, which won the movie the 2014 Award for Achievement in Product Placement in a Single Film award by BrandChannel.

Fight the Apple Club?

Even Fight Club featured products from Apple and others. And although the movie has an anti-corporate feel and talks about fighting against the system, the film still uses product placement to pay the bills.

OK, so we all have to pay the bills somehow, but this still feels out of place.

The Girl with the Apple Computer

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a smart movie featuring investigative journalists unraveling a mystery, shows just how much investigating you can do with the proper equipment.

Rooney Mara, who plays Lisbeth Salander – a smart but disturbed young lady – uses her hacking and investigating techniques to uncover information. It can be implied that she’s only able to do this with the very best equipment, and you better believe that that equipment is an Apple product. Apple wouldn’t have it any other way.

Annihilate Aliens With a Macintosh PowerBook

Independence Day employs a few product placements, but none are more important than the Macintosh PowerBook, which is shown as the computer able to bring down the aliens.

The PowerBook is shown to display the countdown of the alien attack (with a small Apple logo present) and during the virus uploading scene, which shows Jeff Goldblum’s character uploading a virus (freaky fast, too) into the mothership via a Macintosh PowerBook 5300.

The success of this film even inspired the company to make a commercial, which, I have to admit, is pretty cool.

Mission Impossible: Promote Apple

The Macintosh PowerBook is also featured in Mission Impossible, even though Apple made a mistake with this movie.

The company paid around $15 million to have its product featured in the movie, but what the company didn’t do was insist the Apple logo appeared. It’s highly possible that many people didn’t even realize that a PowerBook was used. Maybe that’s why a commercial was made flagging up the fact.

Jurassic Apple World

Even Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park got on the Apple train, showing the Macintosh Quadra 700 being used as the main computer system. It could handle everything, minus a few dinosaurs.

The much more recent Jurassic World also jumped on the bandwagon, showing a few clips of Nick Robinson’s character using Beats headphones, though it’s possible Samsung beat out Apple in displaying the most products (as is evident in the clip embedded below).

Sex Tape, Made By Apple

Sex Tape is a comedy released in 2014, and it’s possible Apple produced this entire movie. There are so many scenes featuring Apple products and comments about how great the company is, that it ends up being comical (unlike the movie itself).

In Sex Tape, Jason Segel’s character watches the titular sex tape that he and his girlfriend (played by Cameron Diaz) record. This lets them mention in one scene that the iPad camera is great, with the pair screaming, “The camera is amazing!”

It’s also possible that the couple owns every single Apple product ever made. They can be seen with a MacBook Apple Tax: Why Do Macs Hold Their Resale Value? You've probably heard it before: Macs may cost more, but they hold their value. Is this true, and if so why? Read More , an iPad, an iPhone, an iMac, chatting with Siri, and even mentioning The Cloud, though they do admit that they don’t “understand The Cloud.” What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More

And that right there is product placement… all the product placement.

The Craziest Thing of All

These are some of the most egregious examples of Apple product placement, which together show just how much marketing clout the company has in Hollywood. However, what’s really crazy is that Apple doesn’t even pay for product placement. There was a time when it did have to pay, but that time has now passed. Pay for advertising? Only chumps like Samsung would do that.

As Gavin Polone, producer of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, noted, dealing with Apple is somewhat of a graft situation. He explained, “Apple won’t pay to have their products featured, but they are more than willing to hand out an endless amount of computers, iPads and iPhones”. So, give a production company free products and they will stick them in their movie for free.

What other Apple product placements in movies have you noticed? Can you think of any more egregious examples than those listed here? Does this kind of corporate shilling annoy you or do you get a kick out of seeing Apple products in almost every movie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Related topics: iPod, MacBook, Movie Trailer.

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  1. Rgs
    June 3, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    It's a shame the word "Brainwashing" never came up. Way too many people seem to fall prey to this form of subliminal advertising.

  2. Anonymous
    October 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Apple haters:

    Their shit isn't going anywhere and there is a reason so many people own the stuff....it just works. When my mom needed a new cell phone....iPhone. She don't give a shit about the complexities of changing the fucking background or file manager. She just wants it work, not crash out...wants it to a be a beautiful solid device.

    Whenever an employee here at work asks, what computer do your recommend for son/daughter going to college....I tell them to visit apple.com and pick up a Macbook Air/Pro. With everything web based now, and no os dependent software to install, I always recommend Apple products.

    Being in IT, I have had to work on a few android devices. There are some really nice units but a whole shit load of junk units. Unresponsive while loading the mail app, or will crash out. And whats the damn deal with different versions on everyyyyyyyyy android device??

  3. Anonymous
    October 2, 2015 at 2:56 am

    I hadn't noticed... I just assumed they were all Androids....

  4. Anonymous
    October 1, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Funny how TV seems to be sponsored by Windows Phone; Parks and Recreation, Hawaii 5-0 (remake series), and Last Man Standing have all featured Lumias...

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

      I always found it hilarious that Microsoft chose to sponsor a show about a low-level government group in a small town. I'd have thought that image already exists in people's minds :D

  5. Anonymous
    September 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Unless you are already predisposed to a particular brand, no amount of product placement or advertising will FORCE you to buy that brand/product.

    I wonder if there are any truly objective studies on whether product placement and/or advertising actually increase sales.

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 23, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      That would be an interesting study to look into, and maybe a great article for the internet culture section.

  6. Anonymous
    September 23, 2015 at 1:22 am

    i don't own shit from apple...i actually threw a printer away that installed apple crap in its driver install...apple can suck dick...

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 23, 2015 at 6:43 am

      You must really hate Apple product placement then. Do you notice when movies use Apple in their films?

  7. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    "Makes You Buy Its Products" is a bit extreme and overstated, don't you think ? Skip the propaganda please !

    • Anonymous
      September 23, 2015 at 2:53 am

      Agreed. A seller may make a product enticing enough so that you want to buy or YOU think you HAVE to have it, but nobody can MAKE you buy their product.

      • Shay Meinecke
        September 23, 2015 at 6:46 am

        Also agree. No one is forced to buy anthing, but product placement can certainly make some people think they have to buy a product.

  8. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    And yet it has never once convinced me to buy a single apple product.

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      I own Apple products (not exclusively), but don't buy them because they are featured on film. I bought my Mac because it was recommended to me by a person I trust with tech.

      Though, maybe he was influenced... ;)

  9. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    First: Yes, this annoys the piss out of me. It's free marketing for a company that encourages people to buy unjustifiably overpriced hardware that contributes nothing of value to the world.

    Surface Tablets are also far more common in TV and movies and football games than one might reasonably expect. Sometimes the same TV show (e.g. Elementary) will alternate between Apple and Microsoft devices from episode to episode, making me think that the production designer can't be bothered to tell the two apart.

    A lot of CW dramas shows seem hung up on specific PC brands. Arrow has lots of Lenovo machines and if I remember correctly Smallville had a lot of Dell and Alienware computers.

    I'd also like to give a big, big credit to Mr. Robot, which not only managed to have a fully developed collection of IT hardware rather than non-stop Macs, but also showed real user interfaces where they would make sense in context AND using the correct software tools for the work that was being done. Maybe the people who made it have no idea what datacenters look like, but at least they got the basic facts right.

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 22, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I’m pretty sure there are more tablets in movies/shows than are used in real life. It seems everyone on the screen owns a tablet.