Villains In Movies Can’t Use This Brand’s Tech And I Can’t Unsee It

I had no idea.
Universal Pictures

Have you noticed that in films, villains tend to have tech that’s just a bit... naff?

I always put it down to the villains usually being super high-tech and creating their own technology to intimidate and monitor their targets – but, actually, it’s far simpler than that, and I don’t know why I didn’t realise until now.

It’s because, when it comes to Apple at least, it’s actually against their usage policies to have villains or generally bad characters using their technology. Which, to be honest, makes perfect sense.

Rian Johnson spoke about this particular rule

“I don’t know if I should say this or not,” the Knives Out director said in a Vanity Fair Notes on a Scene video.

“Not because it’s lascivious or something, but because it’s gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write. But forget it, I’ll say it, it’s very interesting. Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies—but, and this is very pivotal, if you’re ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera.”

It’s true! In their Copyright and Trademark guidelines, Apple states that Apple can be referenced in productions, but, with this crucial guideline: “The use [of an Apple product] does not show Apple or its products in a false or derogatory light.”

Rian went on to say: “Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.”

Well, yeah.

Apple don’t pay for product placement

Interestingly, Apple never pays for product placements since Jon Holtzman created their Product Placement Program over 20 years ago. The brand will “gift” products to sets but without paying for inclusion.

Speaking on his thoughts on product placement, Holtzman said: “Product placements should feel natural, not forced. It should not be blatant or obvious. Any placement that is so in your face that it takes you out of the story, for even a second, reflects poorly on the brand.

“The problem is that when a company pays for a placement they view it like advertising. They want a specific number of seconds of product and logo exposure for their investment. But that often conflicts with the flow of the production.”

I’ll need to forget this fact the next time I’m watching a mystery film and only one character is abstaining from having an iPhone...


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