By Roger Fingas
Apple has once again, after a three-year gap, taken the Overall Product Placement title in Brandchannel's Brandcameo Product Placement Awards, highlighting the companies inserted most often into Hollywood movies.
According to Brandchannel, Apple products appeared in nine out of 35 movies that topped US weekend box office in 2014, beating out Sony and Coca-Cola by a single film. References ranged in scale from a villain mentioning the iPod shuffle in The Lego Movie to an extended Apple Store scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Some other blockbusters with Apple products included Ride Along, The Fault in Our Stars, and Gone Girl. Prior to this year's victory, Apple previously claimed the award in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Apple products also made their way into a number of movies below the first-place threshold as well, including Birdman, Sex Tape, Tusk, and Sabotage.
Product placement in films, television and other media can be controversial. While such placement helps to pay for movies that cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, critics note that it sometimes distracts from the plot or even steers it in a different direction.
Brandchannel has in fact given its latest Worst Product Placement award to Apple's Beats brand for Transformers: Age of Extinction. In one scene, a character able to produce virtually anything with his mind specifically chooses to create a Beats Pill speaker.
Age of Extinction is in fact cited as having the most product placements of any 2014 blockbuster, numbering 55 brands in all. Runners up included Gone Girl (48), Ride Along (37), and 22 Jump Street (32).