“The Internship”: Brand Marketing and Product Placement at its Best

By Tabasum Lutfi
Marketing Specialist, TriVision

It’s not every day you watch a movie in which the starring role is played not by an actual movie star, but by a brand.

Google Brand Placement in the movie "The Internship"

As a form of brand marketing – or in this instance, product placement – Google plays a leading role in the recent comedy, “The Internship”, opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson

Also known as embedded marketing, product placement is a growing trend in advertising and usually found in movies and TV shows where a product is presented in a way that generates positive feelings towards that particular brand. Examples include the sports car featured in a James Bond movie, or the Coca Cola bottle on Simon’s desk in an American Idol episode.

Coca-Cola Brand Placement on American Idol

However, it is probably safe to say that no brand in recent memory portrayed product placement better than Google in the “The Internship”.

In “The Internship” Google was pretty much the central theme of the movie. Google allowed the film’s cast to shoot for five days at their headquarters in Mountain View, California, using about 100 of their employees as extras (the rest of the scenes were shot in Atlanta). While Google didn’t pay 20th Century Fox anything for the exposure, the filmmakers did give the company some control over how its products were shown onscreen.

In the movie, Google blurred the lines between two general types of product placement: paid and natural. Paid product placement is when the camera lingers on the product for an extra moment or mentions it in a very obvious way. Natural product placement is less in-your-face and happens in a more casual arrangement where a company loans its products free of charge in hopes of getting some exposure.

Not all brands have to pay though, especially respected brands like Google and Apple. Apple has had a very successful history with unpaid, natural product placement, in movies such as “The Net” and “Forrest Gump.”

Actor, Sarah Jessica Parker, typing on an Apple brand computer.

According to Google, one of the main reasons they agreed to be involved in the movie “The Internship” was to promote computer science as a career and encourage more students to become interested in technology and computers. They also thought this was a good way to expose Google’s “do no evil” culture.

It seems like product placement is becoming prevalent as more and more people are getting tired of typical commercials and printed ads. But if you really want to see product placement at its best, watch “The Internship”. Not only does it open your eyes to the world of Google as a company, but it also sheds light on the role brand marketing plays in our every day lives.


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