Product Placement

Product placement hit theaters in the 1910’s. Henry Ford’s Model T was featured at the end of many of directxor Mack Sennett’s comedies during the credit sequence and then the phenomenon took off.  In the early stages, product placement was simply used for producers to utilize a company’s product without having to pay for it. Now companies pay millions of dollars in order for their products to be featured in films. The rapid growth of product placement was evident when the magazine Variety showed that 50 percent of movies in 1931 contained product placement.

The reason for this drastic rise in product placement is because companies realized that audiences become very easily invested in the film they are watching. While watching the film, a viewer is so invested in the story that they can not avoid the advertised products. Thus, product placement is more effective than a billboard or a newspaper ad because the target market is forced to see the advertisement.

Directors often times hinder the storyline in order to incorporate certain companies products. For instance, in the comic book Superman II the character Lois Lane never smoked a cigarette. However, when Superman was made into a movie, Lois Lane smoked Marlboros throughout the whole film. Later, Marlboro admitted to paying up to $42,000 for 22 placements of Marlboro throughout the film.

However, the cost of an advertising spot can vary based on the significance of the product in the story. For instance, if a company paid for their soda machine to be featured in the background of a scene, this would be less expensive than if it were the basis of a storyline. Directors sometimes even go as far as making the title of an episode a products name. One example of this was on the hit television show Seinfeld when they had an episode named “The Junior Mint”. In this episode, one of the main characters, Elaine, visits her ex-boyfriend in the hospital who she dumped because he was overweight. Later, Elaine finds out that he lost some weight and is now interested in dating him again. At the hospital, during the operation, Kramer and Jerry drop a Junior Mint into his heart. This miraculously cures him. While shooting this scene director Tom Cherones substitutes a York Peppermint Patty for the Junior Mint because the Junior Mint was too small for the shot. However, Junior Mint offered Seinfeld more money, so they went with the name “Junior Mint” anyway.

Today, advertising products in cinema has become the most effective and utilized way to advertise. With the evolution of DVR, and the more distractions that technology introduces to us every day, placing your product in the material that the consumer is interested in is the best way to be sure that your consumers will see your products.


Lehu, Jean-marc. Branded Entertainment: Product Placement & Brand Strategy in the Entertainment Business. London ; Philadelphia, London: Kogan Page, 2007.

Cherones, Tom. The Junior Mint. Comedy, 1993.

Donner, Richard. Superman. Action, Adventure, Drama, 1978.







Food in The Color Purple

In the movie The Color Purple, director Steven Spielberg utilizes food in order to show the transformation of the main character Celie, and the theme of disgust and abuse throughout the film. Spielberg’s version of Alice Walker’s book is about the abuse of African-American women in a small rural community in the state of Georgia. Celie, the protagonist in this story, was abused and taken advantage of at a very young age by her stepfather. At the age of fourteen she was impregnated and was later forced to marry a man named Albert.

One example of a way that food helps express Celie transformation as a character is by the beverages that Celie provides for Albert. In the beginning of the story, attending to her husband’s request, she serves him lemonade portraying her as an obedient wife. Later, she serves him a glass of water portraying here as a rebellious woman. Celie served Albert the glass of lemonade while he was attempting to demoralize his son’s lover who was pregnant. By giving him the glass of lemonade she shows disapproval by the sour taste, but still obeys her husband by giving him a cold glass of lemonade. Later in the story a pitcher of lemonade is spilled over a ledge. The breaking of the lemonade pitcher is symbolic of her finally breaking away from her subservient self and becoming a rebellious woman. Later, her new rebellious persona is shown by her spitting into the water.

Later in the story, her stepfather Alfonzo describes her as a disgusting piece of meat. Then, when describing her to Albert he goes as far as to describe her as “spoiled twice” referring to her two pregnancies. Spielberg conveys the terrible nature of what Alfonzo is saying by using things that everyone is aware of. Most people know the gruesomeness of meat that is spoiled twice.

Lastly, when Celie is introduced to Shug the “Queen Honeybee”, Shug calls her ugly and unclean. In order to erase this memory of her from Shug’s mind, who she wants to impress, she shows off through her ability to cook. She presents a clean and beautiful breakfast to Shug, and further impresses Shug by the way the meal smells. Smell is not something that Spielberg can expose the audience to so he has dogs react to the amazing smell of the breakfast. Spielberg here is assuming that the audience has past knowledge of the way a southern-style breakfast smells.

This film is an outstanding example of the many ways that food can play a role in a film. Food can help develop a character, show a character’s transformation, and better connect the audience to a story. In The Color Purple, Spielberg utilizes food as a man tool in portraying the story to the audience.


Tom Hertweck editor. Food on Film: Bringing Something New to the Table. Film and History (Lanham, Md.). Lanham ; Boulder ; New York ; London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.


Food in Shrek and Groundhog Day

Everything that a director places in a film has a purpose. An item could be used as symbolism, it can help develop a character or even convey a theme.  Food is an object that many directors utilize in their films to express an idea to an audience. Two examples of how food can play a significant role in the storyline of a film are exhibited in the scenes “Excessive Eating” in Groundhog Day and “Meeting the Parents” in Shrek.

Excessive Eating – Groundhog Day

In a world in which Phil’s days are on a continuous time loop, he is faced with no long-term consequences to his actions.  One way that the director, Peter Weir, shows this is through the type and quantity of food Phil eats. In the film, Phil goes to a diner with a woman, where he orders, essentially, everything on the menu. The quantity and nutritional value of his food shows that this character is not concerned with the consequences that come with consuming such an unhealthy meal. In addition, his lack of manners while eating is another obvious sign that he does not care about the results of his actions (what people think of him). Going against social norms, he picks up the cake with his hands and drinks directly out of the coffee carafe, rather than pouring it into his mug. Food is a critical element used to convey to the audience that Phil does not consider the consequences of his actions.

Meeting the Parents – Shrek 2

Having dinner with the in-laws for the first time is an event that often provokes a great deal of anxiety, tension and that feeling of inescapable awkwardness. Dinner with in-laws that are a different species from you, however, could exacerbate that anxiety to new heights. The director, Andrew Adamson, uses food to convey the differences between Shrek and his in-laws. The scene is set to be a very elegant dinner, with extravagant place settings, and elaborate dishes. Shrek is immediately portrayed as an outsider at the table. Then, when Shrek is served the first course, a very sophisticated dish, he does not know how to properly eat it. He then continues to eat it with his hands, showing disrespect, and aggravating the King. As tension in the scene grew, Shrek rips apart a chicken and the King rips apart a lobster, both showing their frustration and hatred towards each other.  Furthermore, Adamson carefully choose a chicken for Shrek and a lobster for the King to again show the difference in social class between the two characters. Lobster is an expensive meal that is enjoyed by people of the upper class, on the contrary, chicken is relatively inexpensive and all classes can afford.

References Top 10 Food Eating Scenes in Movies, 2015.

Ramis, Harold. Groundhog Day. Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, 1993.

“Groundhog Day (1993) – IMDb.” Accessed November 5, 2016.

Adamson, Andrew, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon. Shrek 2. Animation, Adventure, Comedy, 2004.

“Shrek 2 (2004) – IMDb.” Accessed November 5, 2016.


popcorn-1085072_1280When going to the movies, one thing that is critical to the experience is popcorn. Movies and popcorn is a match made in heaven, like bread and butter or peanut butter and jelly.  In today’s society, it is socially expected to purchase popcorn while at the movies. However, this has not always been the case. The origin of popcorn in movie theaters dates back to the late 19th century. During this time period popcorn was a wildly popular snack at entertainment events such as fairs, sporting events and circuses. Along with the exciting process of making popcorn, it was an inexpensive and delicious snack. The mass production of popcorn was simple, efficient, and easy to transport.

When movie houses first opened in the early 1900’s owners tried to closely mimic the experience of a movie goer to the experience of one attending a Broadway show. When silent movies were in theaters, only people that were literate were able to attend because they were able to read the intertitles. Due to the literacy it took to enjoy a film, moviegoers were mostly upper class. From the architecture to the snacks, the only thing different from a movie theater and a Broadway auditorium was the stage and the screen. Since Broadway theaters did not sell popcorn, movie theaters did not as well.

Popcorn became very popular, however, with the emergence of the Great Depression. During the Great Depression people began to use the movies as an escape from the terrible reality of the outside world. The demand for inexpensive snacks at the movies was high due to the poor economic conditions of the country. For 5 to 10 cents a bag, popcorn quickly became a staple at the movies. Furthermore, after the Great Depression ended with the start of World War II, the United States limited the consumption of many goods by Americans in order to supply the soldiers with all of the goods that they needed. One thing that was rationed was sugar. In response to this, candy and soda prices went up and became less accessible at the movies, further increasing the demand for popcorn.

At first popcorn was sold by vendors outside of the theaters, due to the inability for movie theaters to produce popcorn in-house. This led to them selling “lobby privileges” to vendors who sold popcorn outside of their theaters. However, the owners quickly realized that their profits could grow rapidly if they cut out the middleman and sell popcorn in house. In response, it was necessary for all theaters to sell popcorn to stay profitable.

Today, 85% of the profit that movie theaters make are a result of concessions. The number one selling concession at the movies today is indeed popcorn!


Geiling, Natasha. “Why Do We Eat Popcorn at the Movies?” Smithsonian. Accessed October 13, 2016.

Tuttle, Brad. “Movie Theaters Make 85% Profit at Concession Stands.” Time. Accessed December 3, 2016.


Snacks that enhance the movies!

When going to a movie it is essential to have a snack to munch on.  If you are beginning to get sick of the typical snacks such as popcorn here are a couple of options to help enhance your movie watching experience.

My favorite snack while watching a movie is any kind of mint, specifically peppermint. Eating a peppermint allows you to feel fresh while watching the movie. Smelling the mint makes you more alert, allowing you to better follow the storyline.


Another one of my favorite movie-going snacks is guacamole. A nice bag of chips and some guacamole dip is all I need to enjoy a movie. According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, monounsaturated fat, which is in guacamole, helps blood flow to the brain boosting brainpower and enhancing your ability to concentrate on the movie. Monounsaturated fats are better for you and can lead to a positive effect on your health while saturated and trans fats often found in popcorn,  lead to negative effects. (American Heart Association) Eating guacamole can easily be enjoyed at the movie theater by purchasing a sealed container along with chips. However, eating homemade guacamole tastes a lot better than packaged guacamole, so you may want to save this movie treat for while you are at home.Nachos with Avocado Dip

Along with being my favorite snack and my stress reliever, chocolate is always the answer for a treat while watching a film. According to researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, Emmanuelle diTomaso and Daniele Piomelli, eating a chocolate bar although fattening, releases neurotransmitters like dopamine which leads to happiness.  To further increase your satisfaction at a theater, however, indulge in dark chocolate. According to researchers at the University of Nottingham, dark chocolate improves brain function and makes one more aware of what is going on around them, further leading to a more pleasurable experience while watching a movie.


If you want to appreciate the picture and remember it for a long period of time you may want to consider making yourself fish for dinner,  before going to the movies. According to the University of Maryland, Omega 3 fatty acids, which are present in all oily fish, enhance brain memory and performance. Just don’t forget to eat a peppermint after because nobody wants to smell your dinner while watching the movie!


Lastly, if you have ever been guilty of eating that whole box of popcorn or that full bag of candy you may want to consider eating pistachios. Pistachios are a healthy and delicious option while watching a movie. While it may be loud to crack open the shell, studies have shown that eating pistachios slows down your eating. Furthermore, the act of cracking open each shell allows you to register how much you are eating and when you have eaten too much.


All of these snacks are magnificent ways to further enhance your movie going experience. From some guacamole and chips to dark chocolate, all of these options allow you to better concentrate and be happier throughout the film. Don’t allow yourself to watch a movie without any of these snacks!



“Monounsaturated Fats.” Accessed November 20, 2016.

“Neuroscience For Kids – Sweet Mysteries of Chocolate.” Accessed December 2, 2016.

“The Brain Benefits of Omega-3 Fats in Your Diet | Be Brain Fit.” Accessed December 2, 2016.