A blog on Engadget.com caused a storm on Tuesday, after it criticized a Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) original show for its exuberant display of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products. Product placement, as the practice is known, can cause trouble for a company’s public image, even if no money changes hands in the process.
The Engadget blogger, Sharif Sakr, was watching the Netflix original series “House of Cards” when he noticed a shot that contained nine different Apple products. The shot appeared, according to the first line of the post, 31 minutes 42 seconds into the sixth episode of the show. “House of Cards” isn’t the first Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) original show, but it is its most important, as it attracted the talent of Kevin Spacey to the small screen.
The explosion of product placement in one moment caused Sakr to question the deal made behind the scenes, which caused the shot to come about. It is important to note that the author is from the United Kingdom, where product placement was illegal until 2011.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), according to court filings and its own statements, does not pay for product placement. The company instead gives a good deal of its stock to media producers in the hopes that they will use the devices on television shows and so on. The strategy has been subtly working for years, but this is not the first time it has caused trouble for the company.
As a Forbes article pointed out earlier today, a 2010 episode of the ABC sitcom Modern Family centered around an iPad. That episode caused controversy as it appeared to be unflinching and unapologetic product placement. It turned out that though Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) provided the iPad for the episode, it did not, however, pay the producers or anyone involved to put the Apple products on screen.
It is likely that the shot contained in House Of Cards arose along the same lines, and that the sheer gratuity of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products was on the table during the shot. Sakr had his suspension of disbelief shattered by the shot. Perhaps it was a poor choice by the director, or whoever designed the shot, rather than a problem brought about by the product placement itself.
A response from people who worked on the scene to the blog post explained the huge amount of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products on screen with reference to a small plot that took place largely off screen. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) did not pay for product placement, nor did they provide rules on how their products should be displayed. The company simply provided the products, the crew decided how they were to be used.
One instance of this type of product placement will not cause Apple too much trouble, but if it continues it might have an effect on the way consumers see the company’s brand. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is also unlikely to see a backlash from this single instance. This was, more than anything, an over reaction by one writer to a single frame of video.