Product placement in pictures – The Hunger Games

“When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble. So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that no one could ever read my thoughts.”

Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games was published in the period of 2008 to 2010 and immediately became a global bestseller. Soon after that the movie adaptation of the first book hit the cinemas, while the second one is scheduled for autumn 2013. Interestingly Ms Collins decided to take an active role in adapting the novel for the silver screen. The result is an above average movie adaptation which will surely be an important part of the Hunger Games movie trilogy.

The Hunger Games – book cover and movie poster


The story takes place in a nation called Panem, established in North America after the destruction of the continent’s civilization by an unknown apocalyptic event. The nation consists of the wealthy capital city Capitol and 12 poor surrounding districts, which are under Capitol’s (strict) control. I won’t go into details about the story; because I’m sure you read the book and/or watched the movie.

For me one of the most interesting aspects of the book was total absence of any brands. I can’t remember any brand mentioned in the first or even in the second book (I haven’t read the third, though).

The same (almost) goes for the movie. I haven’t noticed any brands whatsoever, which is very refreshing, especially if you compare The Hunger Games with Transformers, Iron Man, The Island, Minority Report and other infamous movies full of blatant product placement.

The only exception is a futuristic bottle of 321 Water which could be seen (although I haven’t noticed it) in the Control Room scene on The Hunger Games.

The Control Room from The Hunger Games (Source: Design You Trust)


There were several opportunities for brands to be involved in the movie, e.g. on the train from District 12 to Capitol we saw Haymitch drinking some generic spirits, Katniss used a non-branded remote control in her room, we saw a glimpse of people drinking in a party, and Hunger Games contestants wore non-branded uniforms during their training.

A bottle from The Hunger Games (2012, Lionsgate, screen capture)


A remote control from The Hunger Games (2012, Lionsgate, screen capture)


There’s also an interesting aspect of movie marketing which almost exclude cross-promotions. Apparently top brands were reluctant to be involved with the movie and stayed away from tie-ins. The article in Forbes stated that the main reason for such outcome was not-so-favorable storyline, which was not a safe choice for most of the brands.

However, due to the huge success at the box office, some brands are prepared to give it a go with the sequel. Burger King is one of those brands who might be involved with Catching Fire. Rachel Spielgelman of the Pitch Agency, which develops promotional campaigns for the fast food chain said for Forbes:

“Nobody would touch Twilight with the first movie because they all said it was too adult and too dark. But once it became widely successful, everyone wanted in. It’s how they operate. I get it. We’ll do the fast food tie-in with the second movie.”

But there was one company that wasn’t afraid to take the opportunity: Mattel created Katniss Everdeen barbie doll, which you can get for $23.29 at Amazon.

Katniss Everdeen barbie doll


I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll see more marketing deals next autumn. Katniss dolls, Katniss burgers, computer games …


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