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The changing face of product placement: A case study of the James Bond film series

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posted on 2023-05-25, 06:03 authored by Tanya L Nitins

Product placement has become a phenomenon in today's film industry, with many films now dependent on the additional revenue generated by these commercial investments. While primarily a financial arrangement, it is also important that the practice of product placement be examined and understood in relation to its cultural contexts, an area of research so far largely ignored by academic study. In this thesis, I demonstrate that this commercial practice is intrinsically connected to the surrounding cultural environment films are produced in. More specifically, I believe that fluctuations in the number and types of products featured in such "Hollywood" films as the James Bond series, are a direct result of various cultural and historical influences.

Through the conduction of a comprehensive content analysis of the official James Bond film series, I was able to track the impact specific cultural events, such as the Cold War, the Space Race, the rise of consumerism, the incorporation of technology into day-to-day life and the growth of global brands and transnational media, have had on the practice of product placement. Not only was I able to catalogue the number of individual products and product placements that occurred in each film, I was also able to identify a significant shift from the more ambiguous "clutter" or standard "signage" placements, to a greater emphasis on "verbal/hand" placements that increase audience exposure to the brand by directly weaving it into the plot's progression. In fact, many of these commercial practices have become so embedded in film narratives that they have become yet another method for filmmakers to produce cultural meaning.

Yet, a concern arises when too much emphasis is placed on these commercial inclusions with a number of recent films being strongly criticised for over-commercialism. Advertisers and filmmakers alike run the very real risk of alienating audiences through overt product placement practices, and further research needs to be conducted in order to determine where this "line" between acceptable and unacceptable levels of product placement exists.


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Queensland

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Associate Professor Errol Vieth ; Dr Jeannette Delamoir

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By publication