And the Academy Award for the Best Brand Goes to….

Every year, the Academy Awards ceremony celebrates the world’s best actors and actresses, directors, and even costumes. So why not the best brand? Brands have become a driving force of Hollywood entertainment and are now part of nearly every plot. Sometimes, like the Chevy Camaro in the film Transformers, they even become characters themselves.

So why aren’t these talented brands getting the recognition they deserve? To fix this, I’ve decided to add a new category to the Academy Awards lineup: Best Brand.

The nominees this year are Coca-Cola, for its appearance in 11 movies; Ford, for its appearance in 13 movies; and Apple, for its appearance in 18 movies. And the winner is….


The Oscar for Best Brand Goes to Apple!

The Oscar for Best Brand Goes to Apple!

Not only did this prolific brand weasel its way into 18 movies, but these films reached significantly different demographics, from the adult female consumer (He’s Just Not That Into You) to the male and female teenager (Taken and Hannah Montana), to young children (G-Force and Race to Witch Mountain). (If you haven’t heard of these movies, you’re probably better off.) And with all of its targeting of children and teens, Apple is quite strategically building its future customer base.

Good job, Apple! Way to brainwash a whole new generation with the idea that your products are cool, hip, and essential to our happiness. I only wish I was writing this blog on a new iPad tablet, because my computer just doesn’t seem good enough anymore.

Of course, it’d be great to see this new category excised from the annual awards ceremony—like the tumorous growth it is—but I can’t imagine a scenario where any effective legal restrictions on product placements or (in industry jargon “Brand Integration”) are adopted, or where there is any reduction in the $3.5 billion spent each year in the U.S. to infect movies with brand propaganda.

Recognizing this reality¸ it would be nice to at least see this powerful tool also used by truly sustainable companies and products. Imagine watching cool characters shop at Goodwill instead of The Gap. Imagine sexy celebrities scrubbing themselves with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap instead of a toxic beauty bar. Picture them cleaning their countertops with baking soda instead of carcinogen-laced cleaning products. Imagine them reading Worldatch’s State of the World 2010 report instead of the newest issue of GQ. (Ok, I couldn’t resist doing a bit of brand integration myself!)

These subtle references shape our reality, and the more we can influence this process, finding amenable directors and studios, that would be a big help. Not as big a help as banning product placements altogether, but definitely worth some serious attention by those working to shift cultures to center on sustainability instead of consumerism.

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