Last summer, during a protracted legal battle with bitter rival Samsung (PINK:SSNLF), the world learned a lot about how Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been able to enjoy free publicity over the years, thanks to carefully placed product placements in Hollywood movies.
According to testimony by Phil Schiller, Apple's global chief of marketing, the Cupertino, California-based company never pays for its products to be used by Hollywood stars in movies and television, but it does "have a person who helps provide products to people that want to do that."
"Apple won't pay to have their products featured, but they are more than willing to hand out an endless amount of computers, iPads, and iPhones," elaborated Gavin Polone, producer of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, in a conversation with Daily Tech. "It's kind of a graft situation."
Whoever Apple hired to promote its merchandise for product placement usage must have received large bonuses because Apple has all but invaded the big screen in the past decade. According to a study by Brandchannel, Apple-branded products showed up in over one-third of all US box office-topping films between 2001 and 2011, which was more than what McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Pepsi (NYSE:PEP), and Sony VAIO (NYSE:SNE) could muster up. In 2011's Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Apple products got more than five minutes of screen time, which marketing firm Front Row Analytics calculated was worth more than $23 million.
The free publicity Apple enjoys helps the company keep advertising costs down. Apple spends just $1 billion per year on advertising, much less than Samsung ($2.6 billion) or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) ($1.6 billion). It also allows the company to reap the intangible benefits of being associated with the glamorous Hollywood film industry.
The Motley Fool
Shares of Disney (DIS) hit an all-time high after the family entertainment giant posted better than expected quarterly results on Tuesday.
"Star Wars" fans are also hitting new highs.
Disney CEO Robert Iger told CNBC on Tuesday that his company didn't shell out $4 billion in cash and stock for Lucasfilm to merely put out a new "Stars Wars" movie every other year. Iger admitted for the first time that Disney is also working on other theatrical properties based on "Star Wars" characters.
Some ideas have to simmer for a long time before they're ready for mass consumption. All three of these have been around for a long time now, but there are signs that 2013 is their time to shine.
1. World Premieres on the Web
Last weekend, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) entered the original entertainment programming business with House of Cards, a made-for-streaming-video series starring Kevin Spacey as a deliciously villainous politician.
In a cool quirk that reflects its Web-centric world, Netflix made all 13 one-hour episodes of the first season available at once to its subscribers.
According to Variety, "extreme binge viewing" has ensued.
The Motley Fool
It's getting close to kickoff time for Super Bowl XLVII, and to many viewers, the best part of the Big Game isn't the kicking, throwing, and carrying (and fumbling) of the pigskin. It's the commercials.
Yes, investors should be watching the biggest sporting event in the America-centric world for the ads. It's about more than brand building: Companies often use the Super Bowl to tout new, innovative products and ideas -- and even the company's own stock -- that you may want to know about.
I'm talking, of course, about the Super Bowl advertisements, which are costing an average of $3.8 million for a 30-second spot this year. That's usually considered money well-spent; companies like Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW) and GoDaddy have used Super Bowl spots as a springboard to national prominence, and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) "1984," aired during Super Bowl XVIII, is widely considered the greatest television advertisement of all time. If you've never watched it, do that now.
Many companies are either leaking their ads for Super Bowl XLVII or releasing teasers for the real ad (below, see Volkswagen's brilliant teaser, starring Jimmy Cliff), and there are a few trends emerging. Let's take a look at this year's big stories in Super Bowl advertising.
Mercedes-Benz (ETR:DAI) is apparently planning a spot featuring model Kate Upton reportedly washing the new Mercedes CLA in slow motion for two minutes. Sure, sex has been a big part of Super Bowl ads before, notably in spots from GoDaddy that have featured (and will feature again in 2013) a leather-clad Danica Patrick, but Mercedes is clearly gunning for a much younger market than usual; Upton is 20 years old and likely to appeal to the male 18-to-35 demographic that Mercedes hopes will buy the CLA, which costs under $30,000, and become lifelong Mercedes buyers. If you're fishing for young men as customers, you could do worse than using Kate Upton as bait.
Al Gore has already won a Nobel Peace Prize, an Academy Award and a presidential popular vote. Now, by losing his foundering progressive media outlet, Current TV -- sold to Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera in a deal announced on Wednesday -- Gore appears to have gained a substantial financial windfall: According to The New York Times, Al Jazeera paid around $500 million for Current; based on Gore's 20 percent stake, that suggests he stands to make $100 million.
In a detail sure to delight conservative critics, the Times reports that "Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1." Nonetheless, the deal didn't close until Jan. 2, ensuring that Gore will have to pay what President Obama might call his "fair share."
This population of over 4,300, just an hour outside of Toronto, faced record unemployment and, like the rest of the country, record levels of debt, when a small enterprising group of townsfolk launched a plan to bring season two of The Oprah Winfrey Network's hit reality show Million Dollar Neighbourhood to Bowmanville. The series sees 100 financially strapped families -- last season in Aldergrove, B.C. -- band together to take on financial challenges designed to put them back in the black and raise the whole community's net worth to $1 million. If they manage to pull together and succeed, one family wins $100,000.
"I knew what the premise of the show was and I knew there were a lot of financial problems in people's lives, mine especially. I needed a push to do the right things with my business and my personal life," says Janet Lange, a participant on the show and proprietor of a children's art business who was part of the committee that brought the show to town.
"I knew that other people are in certain situations where they need help and we needed something for Bowmanville -- to inspire, to show people that things can change and you can be who you want to be."
Overspending at Christmas time is something many of us do. An article in the Toronto Star quoted Dan Demers, an assistant vice-president at TD Canada Trust, who says on average, Canadians spend $587 on food, gifts and entertainment. An RBC survey, which included travel, puts that number higher, at $1,137.
Charlie Brown's complaints about commercialism notwithstanding, Christmas is an expensive time for consumers -- and an important time for retailers who use year-end sales to shore up their bottom lines. But how much is the holiday worth -- and who has had the best luck cashing in? To get a better feeling for the curious flow of Christmas cash, we reviewed at some of the biggest-sellers, biggest-tickets, and most traditional holiday treats. If you've ever wondered about the money underlying the season, take a peek!
Half of all Americans can't be wrong, can they?
Well, as it turns out, they might be. While there are certainly some good deals to be had that day, historical pricing trends suggest that some classes of items tend to have better prices before or after Black Friday. And a few specific items that have shown up in this year's circulars should also be avoided, either because they're of poor quality or because they're not the deal they appear to be.
BLACK FRIDAY CANADA 2012:
Black Friday Sales: The Big Guide to Deals, Stores and Opening Times
Where to Find the Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
Survival Tips for Black Friday 2012
Black Friday Shopping Strategies
Walmart Black Friday Starts at 8 pm Thursday