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Only heroes use iPhones on TV, but they use them a lot

Merchant Machine's figures are contradictory, but it appears the iPhone is the most product-placed device in film and TV

New research says that Apple sees by far the most product placement in films and television, even outside its own Apple TV+ shows.

Product placement is specifically where a company has paid to have one of its products featured in a show. If a character ever says they'll Bing something, Microsoft paid them.

Mind you, that's probably true in real life too.

But it's also why Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) had a different phone every week on "Castle." Far more brilliantly, "Community" took product placement from Subway and made it an enormous part of the plot, as well as an enormous butt of jokes.

Just because you see a product in a show, though, it does not mean that the production was paid to have it there. It can be because that's what the character would use, it can just be because the writers and producers like the products.

For instance, as aired, the first season of "Only Murders in the Building" features Mabel wanting to attack people with a knitting needle. In an early draft of the script by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, it was an Apple Pencil.

And you do not want to know how Mabel describes Android phones in a voiceover.

No firm reveals what it pays for in product placement, but UK firm Merchant Machine took a list of 890 shows and 2,227 movies that are listed on a Product Placement Blog, and looked to see what was being placed the most.

The answer, by a very, very long way, is Apple.

Source: Merchant Machine
Source: Merchant Machine

"Apple is the most product-placed brand in both film and TV, appearing around three times more often than rival Dell, although Apple only recently overtook Dell's share of the personal computer market," say the researchers. "Apple has also been product placed 83.6% more often than second-placed Coca-Cola, appearing in almost precisely one-third of U.S. box office number ones since 2001."

The researchers note that in one episode, Ted Lasso, the character, has even mentioned wanting to buy Apple stock. They also note that the Wall Street Journal did its own survey and found that "across 74 Apple TV+ episodes, characters handled some 300 iPhones, 120 MacBooks and 40 pairs of AirPods."

Not to be left out, AppleInsider has spotted the practically ridiculous number of Apple devices used by characters in "The Afterparty." From a wedding DJ rocking AirPods Max, to the murder victim seemingly running a crypto business from a Mac Studio, Apple devices are everywhere in that show.

The figures in the top description don't tally with the graphics below, but still, that's a lot of Apple products being shown in films and TV
The figures in the top description don't tally with the graphics below, but still, that's a lot of Apple products being shown in films and TV

But they're also subtle. You have to give Apple and the producers credit, if you weren't the sort to be reading AppleInsider — or writing for it — you would not pick up on them.

Or rather, you wouldn't consciously register that Apple was everywhere, but presumably subconsciously, it all helps keep the company in your mind. And if there weren't any subconscious element to it, Apple wouldn't keep paying, and Apple wouldn't insist that only good characters can use its devices, never the villains.