Apr 05 Blog

The Future of Product Placement

Ghost in the Shell

– 5th April 2017 –

This year, cinema audiences will get not one but four glimpses into the future thanks to a space rocket load of sci-fi movies set to hit the big screen, including: Ghost in the Shell, Alien: Covenant, Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets and the much anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049. Though the directors may all have different visions of the future, one thing that can be for certain is that the future will be a world full of brands.

Companies and their agencies look for product placement opportunities in sci-fi and futuristic films to not only show themselves as the brands of today, but more importantly, as brands of the future too – someone their customers can rely on. For a production company, they can use the brands’ current marketing as a short-hand to position the character whilst, in an ironic twist, portraying the character as someone who is loyal to heritage brands.  

Seesaw Media, the industry’s leading product placement agency, takes a look at the brands who position themselves as future-proof by starring in this year’s forthcoming futuristic movies.

Honda and Ghost in the Shell

If you’ve already seen Ghost in the Shell (released 30 march 2017) then you probably noticed the stunning Honda motorbike placement, ridden by Scarlett Johannson’s character, Major. Honda provided the design sketches of Major’s motorbike, modelled on the Honda NM4 and inspired by keywords ‘neo-futuristic’ and ‘cool’ – which it definitely achieves. The bike (actually launched in 2014) was brought up-to-date to look at home in the mid-21st century Japan setting of Ghost in the Shell.

Not only does the bike add a sense of realism to the not-too-distant future setting but it’s also given the NM4 a new lease of life, with the vamped-up bike having been showcased at both the “33rd Osaka Motorcycle Show 2017” and the“44th Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2017” earlier this year, ahead of the film’s release.


Scarlett Johannson as 'Major' on Honda's NM4 product placement
Scarlett Johannson as ‘Major’ on Honda’s NM4. Credit: Empire Online

AMD and Alien: Covenant

In a follow up to 2012’s Prometheus, AMD have teamed up with Alien: Covenant, in a truly integrated partnership in which AMD position themselves as the technology company of the future. As part of the campaign with the film’s Distributor, 20th Century Fox, AMD built on their product placement in the movie and worked with director Ridley Scott to create an original piece of content entitled ‘Meet Walter’ (below). In the 2.30 minute featurette the audience are introduced to the film’s character Walter (Michael Fassbender), an AI,  who is eerily and ritualistically brought to life by his creators.

The placement in the featurette itself is executed tastefully, with a simple logo shot on the chip where Walter’s memory will be stored, complemented in the end credits with “Intelligence powered by AMD”. The featurette in itself is brought to life for audiences at www.meetwalter.com, which invites the viewer to reserve their own Walter by signing up.

Jack Daniel’s and Alien: Covenant

Also spotted in Alien: Covenant’s Prologue: Last Supper, released earlier this year and in one of the first publicity stills, is a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whisky. The film is set 10 years after Prometheus and although the whisky label hasn’t been revamped for the future, considering Jack Daniel’s has been going for 150 years, it’s not unbelievable to imagine the brand still being around 85 years from now. Here, Jack Daniel’s have been able to use their longstanding heritage to project themselves into the future. To date, the Prologue has received 4,233,754 views, which means high visibility ahead of the films’ 19th  May release.

Alien: Covenant JD Product Placement
‘Alien: Covenant’. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Lexus and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

In what is probably the most opulent look at the future, futurist director Luc Besson (he of Fifth Element fame) enlisted the help of Lexus designers to help create the mode of transport in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The film stars Cara Delavigne, Dane DeHaan and Rhianna, along with the Lexus’ SKYJET, which is complete with the Lexus logo on the ships’ front grill. Though audiences can’t buy a Skyjet(…yet) this partnership is exemplary of how a brand can use futuristic product placement and the publicity surrounding a film as a platform to promote their current range of products. Using this opportunity to its fullest potential, Lexus incorporated the unveiling a replica of the Skyjet as part of a showcase in Miami for their latest products and lifestyle activities, and will also be hosting fan experiences in the lead up to the film’s release on 21 July 2017, giving the luxury brand plenty to talk about.

Commenting on the partnership, director Luc Besson said: “For this partnership we were looking for a brand that’s pioneering in innovation and technology, and which is focused on the future more than the past.” Lexus has made a statement that will appeal to consumers with this placement, which is that they will innovate, evolve and excel in the age of technology. This was taken into consideration in the design of the Skyjet, which production and Lexus wanted to be both “grounded in reality and befitting for the world of adventure, set in 700 years time“. Following on from this, rather cleverly, the Skyjet alludes to the new headlight design on the Lexus LC, which launches this year.


Lexus Skyjet product placement
The Lexus Skyjet

Johnnie Walker and Blade Runner 2049 – will the partnership stand the test of time?

When it comes to futuristic films, the most anticipated of the year has got to be Blade Runner 2049, set to hit the big screen in October 6 2017. Johnny Walker Black famously featured in Ridley Scott’s 1982 noir sci-fi thriller as the whisky of choice for Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard. For the original ’82 classic, Johnny Walker custom-made a futuristic bottle and label for the film, releasing a limited number to the public.

Blade Runner Johnnie Walker Product Placement

Audiences will have to wait to see if the partnership continues in the new film but what they can be sure of is that as per Ridley Scott’s original vision, there will be a neon-lit sea of billboards, reminiscent of a modern day Tokyo, where genuine brands will appear.

Also, guaranteed in the future, is that Seesaw media will be back with a full report on product placement in Blade Runner 2049.