Apple has a particularly stringent policy about the use of their products in movies and television; they will not allow any bad guys to use them on screen. Product placement is a marketing technique where characters on a show may use a particular product. However, Rian Johnson, the director of the film ‘Knives Out’, has revealed that Apple does not allow villains to use iPhones in movies.

A brand tracker has named Apple as one of the top-ranking brands in films in 2018. Apple products appear in nearly every contemporary TV show in one form or another. In light of its high media exposure, the tech giant is very particular about ensuring that the products are shown in the best light, in a manner that reflects favourably for both the products and on Apple itself.

Read the full article on Sky News: Apple won’t let bad guys use iPhones on screen, Star Wars director says


Apple’s product placement policy can unintentionally end up being a spoiler for a crime mystery or psychological thriller since they do not allow villains to use their products. Rian Johnson has jokingly remarked that he may be in trouble with his film-making peers for revealing this secret.

It is remarkable how powerful product placements can be in terms of influencing our consumption decisions. While modern technology and streaming options can allow us to skip advertising, embedded marketing can affect us in ways that we do not consciously realize. When we see characters using it, we not only get a glimpse as to how the product can be used but also makes us want to have the same experiences as the characters we watch on films.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. How aware are you of product placements in the films, TV shows and other media that you consume? Do these placements increase your desire to purchase the product in question?
  2. Would you be less inclined to purchase Apple products because an on-screen villain has used it? Why or why not?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘stringent’: (of regulations, requirements, or conditions) strict, precise, and exacting 
  2. ‘pivotal’: of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else