As advertising agencies seek out new ways to recover the eyeballs being lost to Tivo and online gaming just to name a couple of distractions from network tv, product placement in films and television will become even more prevalent than it is today. There is even a growing trend towards the genesis of television: branded entertainment, where the content is produced exclusively as a means to advertise the product. It is a lot harder to strip off the advertising when it is embedded in the content.
One of the first films to make prominent use of recognizable brands on screen was Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick had a vision to make the future that we saw on the screen believable and a faithful extrapolation of 1968 technology to 2001. To achieve that effect, he contacted fifty companies and asked them to provide designs for forward looking products to be used in the movie and many did. None of these inclusions are in the order of the modern incongruous can of soda, label magically pointing to the camera. The type of product placement practiced in the movie was in essence an extrapolation of the corporate exhibits in the then popular World's Fairs. Where company logos appear, they are there only to enhance the verisimilitude of the film. Here are some of the most visible examples:
- Pan Am - Pan Am was at the top of their game in the 1960s, the company was synonymous with luxurious, cutting edge air travel so it is only appropriate that their space shuttle would be the carrier of choice to the space station. The docking sequence choreographed to a waltz, shows the then familiar blue globe logo on the arriving ship. Pan Am did not make it to the millenium unfortunately.
- IBM - In 1968, IBM was the computer company. Their logo is clearly visible on the displays of the space shuttle. It also makes an appearance on the tablets that Dave uses to watch the news aboard the Discovery and on other assorted hardware such as the forearm mounted controls of Dave's spacesuit. There is also the infamous one-letter-removed-from-IBM HAL 9000 computer. Arthur C. Clarke claims that this was coincidental and that he would have changed the name if he had realized this.
- Bell Picture Phone - In a very famous scene, Dr. Heywood Floyd makes a call to his young daughter from the orbiting space station on a Bell picture phone booth with a window that clearly shows the rotation of the station. The Bell System was of course defunct by 2001 having morphed into AT&T.
- American Express Card - American Express submitted a "smart ring" that was not used in the film. However, though it is not very clear in the film, Dr. Floyd pays for the call with an American Express credit card that he inserts into the phone.
- Aeroflot - One of the few brands appearing in the movie that made it to 2001 is the Russian flag carrier, Aeroflot. In the scene where Dr. Floyd bumps into Russian colleagues, the stewardesses accompanying them are carrying bags with the Aeroflot logo.
- Hilton Hotels - The scene above is set in the orbital station in what is presumably the lobby of the station's Orbiter Hilton Hotel. There is also a sign promoting the Hover Hilton.
- Howard Johnson's - In the space station a sign is visible for the Howard Johnson's Earthlight Room.
- General Motors - Once aboard the Pan Am lunar lander Aries the onboard viewscreens show General Motors prototype cars.
- Parker Pens - With elegant spareness of stage artifice, Kubrick shorthands weightlessness by having a Parker pen hover in the air next to a sleeping Dr. Floyd, where it is retrieved by the stewardess and placed back in his shirt pocket.
- RCA/Whirlpool - The stewardess aboard the Aries get meals from the RCA/Whirlpool zero gravity food preparation unit.
- Hamilton - Proto digital watch worn by Frank Poole aboard Discovery. An analog version was produced by Hamilton in small quantities under the name Odysee (due to copyright issues Hamilton could not reference the film). They still show up occasionally on ebay.
- Parker Brothers - Parker Brothers provided a version of pentominoes that Frank Poole was to play with HAL on a computer screen but the game was changed to chess. In the expectation that there would be demand for the game they produced a board version called Universe which had a limited run when the scene got scrapped. The game survives today as the popular Cathedral game.
/msg me if you have other examples I missed