Microsoft Goes After Product Placement

By Deane Barker on October 3, 2003

Geeky Microsoft wants a TV makeover: Apple has always been very strong with product placement, and now Microsoft wants the same thing.

“Microsoft is promoting its Windows products on popular TV shows like Fox’s ‘24’ and HBO’s ‘The Wire,’ airing this fall, as part of the software company’s push to transform the PC’s image from ‘geek to sleek.’ […]

The campaign is part of a push from Microsoft executive Jim Allchin called ‘cool form factor,’ which charges the marketing group with buffing the PC’s image to a hip shine among consumers…”

It’s funny that they mention “24” because during the first season, a big deal was made about the fact that everyone used a Mac except one character, who used a Dell (presumably running Windows). Dave will be happy to know the following.

“The traitor’s identity was a revelation that took most viewers by surprise, but not those who had spotted the producers’ new device to denote villainy in the shady world of spies: The baddies use computers running Microsoft Windows; the good guys use Macs.”

Apple’s product placement is so legendary, I can remember three right off the top of my head: Denzel Washington in “Courage Under Fire” (this would have been Army issue, even), Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible”, and Jeff Goldblum in “Independence Day.” (Something of a sad commentary about my taste in movies, I know.)

Apple is so proud of this, that they have a page just for it on their site, complete with a list of films and TV shows.

In my opinion, Apple has been so successful because Macs are counter-culture by virtue of their market share. Media is always looking for something different. If Macs suddenly became the standard that Windows is, then Windows would be the hip, different thing to stick in front of the camera.



  1. No. Windows will never be the “hip, different thing” that Macs are. No matter how marginalized they might become.

    In movies & TV, PC’s seem to always be cast in roles that make life difficult for the characters, which might be a case of simple type-casting. I even recall seeing recent movies where PC’s still beep & whirr like an old XT with a floppy disk.

    The good guys/bad guys thing is great! Did you know that George W. uses a PowerBook?

  2. Alias has used Macs a number of times, however they have carefully avoided showing the Apple logo. In Episode 14 (Season 1) “The Coup” for example Sydney uses a Powerbook to hack into the casino’s security. Brief glimpses can be seen but the tangle of wires makes it hard to make it out. However the very next shot is of the terminal in OS X with the menu bar and its Apple logo.

    When Vaughn is suspected of being a spy in season 2 and Sydney is going to hack into his laptop you can see that it is an Apple iBook with the logo covered as mentioned on the commentary for that episode.

    Generally laptops on Alias are whatever look kinda of cool and different. Macs sadly are few and far between. Odd since they actually are cool and different :)

    Of note Sydney has also used the very nice Motorola Razr V3 in the current season, while past seasons have seen a sea of Nokia phones.

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