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Publishing

FACTBOX: Branding and product placement in Hollywood

(Reuters) - The upcoming “Sex and the City” movie is a marketing bonanza for companies ranging from Mercedes-Benz to the designer handbag-renting Web site Bag Borrow or Steal.

But Hollywood has long struck deals with companies for product placement in films and television series. Following are some examples:

* Last year comedian Jerry Seinfeld returned to his old television network NBC for a guest spot on the sitcom “30 Rock.” The star of the NBC mega-hit “Seinfeld” got a prime-time plug for his animated film “Bee Movie” written right into the story line of the “30 Rock” season premiere.

* Companies worldwide paid almost $3.4 billion in 2006 to have their merchandise appear in television shows and movies, reflecting the increasing popularity of product placement, according to a report.

* In 2006 Ford Motor Co vehicles appeared in films ranging from director Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” to British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” according to Brandchannel, an online magazine about branding.

* J. Barbour & Sons Ltd -- whose products bear the royal warrants of Queen Elizabeth and heir Prince Charles -- said it was happily taken by surprise when its Beaufort jackets flew off the shelves of its New York shop after one appeared on actress Helen Mirren in her role as the British monarch in the 2006 movie “The Queen.”

* The 2002 James Bond movie “Die Another Day” was for some critics an extended advertisement as 20 companies paid a total of $70 million to have their fast cars and expensive watches featured.

* In one scene in “Casino Royale,” the 21st installment of the movie franchise, James Bond pursued an adversary in a four-wheel bulldozer supplied by Fiat, the Italian industrial group. Ford also used the 2006 movie to promote the Aston Martin, which was driven by Bond after he was behind the wheel of a BMW 750 iL in previous adventures.

* Alcoa Inc. managed to get a full 30-second ad, plus numerous on-screen plugs and dialogue mentions, in George Clooney’s movie “Good Night, and Good Luck” -- all without paying a dime. Alcoa, then formally called the Aluminum Company of America, was the sponsor of Edward R. Murrow’s news program, “See It Now,” in the 1950s.

* PepsiCo Inc., in terms of product placement on the big screen, outranked every other brand on the planet in 2004. Brandcameo awarded its top tongue-in-cheek “accolade” to the maker of Pepsi, Aquafina and Mountain Dew after the Pepsi brand featured in one in five No. 1 U.S. movie box-office hits. Featuring in movies such as “Alien vs. Predator” and “Dodgeball,” Pepsi beat arch-rival Coca-Cola and its ubiquitous Coke brand into second place, where it tied with Motorola and Nike.

* Product placement really took off at the seminal moment in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic, “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial,” when the protagonist alien consumes a trail of Reese’s Pieces that leads him to the house of the boy who befriends him. Sales of the Hershey treat soared.

Writing by Paul Grant, Washington Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Xavier Briand

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