Watches are a way for people to showcase their style and taste, so it makes sense for the entertainment industry to use watches on the wrists of stars to help define their characters. When watches and films are combined well, it can be a home run for both the entertainment industry and the watch manufacturer. The movie or TV show benefits from an association with a quality watch and the watchmakers are exposed to potential new markets.
When products are perfectly placed, watches can become key components to the personalities of specific characters. After all, characters are defined by the choices they make: circle of friends, dialogue, actions, cars and yes, their timepieces.
Product placement: how it happens
Most of the time, a producer approaches manufacturers to request the use of a product in their film or TV show. No payment is made; the manufacturer merely supplies the product for use in the film, and then gets the product back when the film is over.
In situations where there is a cross promotion of a product with a movie, an arrangement is worked out in advance, allowing the movie company to benefit from the exposure generated by the manufacturer's advertising, and vice-versa. For example, with the Swatch Group brand, Hamilton Watch's very successful Men in Black promotion of the classic Venture: or the Omega brand's long-time association with the James Bond franchise. Movies are promoted in watch retailers and point-of-purchase materials are created to emphasise the link. In Hamilton's case, placement of their watches was so effective, people walked into retailers asking for the 'Men in Black' watch--not even knowing the brand name.
Placements can begin in any number of ways. Some brands have relationships with actors who wear their products, and when that actor is in a movie, he or she wears the brand's watches or jewellery. Other times, brand representatives lobby studios and production companies for placement of their products. Occasionally, a manufacturer does not set out seeking placement; instead their product's appearance occurs because a propmaster likes the company's watch, or they are chosen by producers, directors or the stars themselves.
Some product placements make sense historically, as well as for character development. In the recent release Amelia, starring two-time Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank in the title role, Swank sported a Hamilton watch throughout the film. Producers approached the...