Summer time is perfect for reading some fiction novels or bestsellers. At the top of bestsellers lists in the US and the UK we can see similar names: Stephenie Meyer and Stieg Larsson. But there’s another important name familiar with millions of readers worldwide: Dan Brown. The man who caused mass hyteria with his 2003 bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Even though his novel is quite old, I’ll show you some examples of product placement from the novel and from the 2006 movie adaptation.

From an average reader’s perspective Brown’s novel is very well written. It’s also smart, amusing, relatively well researched and most of all, controversial. It includes several examples of product placement – if we could possibly call them placements. Perhaps Dan Brown hadn’t put brands in the novel deliberately, but was just trying to be realistic. That’s a fair statement. However, there are examples, such as the sentence below, that contributed very little to the development of the character – in this case it was Remy, sir Leigh Teabing’s servant:

»He went to the limousine’s wet bar, where he poured himself a Smirnoff vodka. He drank it in a single swallow and followed it with a second.«

There are more examples, but I suggest that you go and read a book (again) and spot the brands for yourself. I will name just a few of them:

  • Alitalia
  • Rolls Royce
  • Jaguar
  • Citroen
  • Fiat
  • Smart
  • Range Rover
  • Times
  • Rolex

Some of the brands mentioned above found a way into the movie, most notably Smart. Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Amelia Doolan said that the company did not pay to have the car appear in the movie. They admitted though, that they were delighted because the movie producers decided to stay true to the original script.

Smart in The Da Vinci Code (2006, Columbia Pictures, screen capture)

There was a brand that played a very important part in the novel, but was subsequently changed for some other brand in the movie. Robert Langdon, Sophie Neveu and Teabing escaped from Teabing’s chateau in his Range Rover, however in the movie they used Land Rover. Honestly, their decision was corrent. Land Rover was perfect for driving through the woods with the lights off.

Land Rover in The Da Vinci Code (2006, Columbia Pictures, screen capture)

Another interesting components of the movie were locations – some important scenes happened in Louvre, in St. Sulpice, Westminster Abbey… There are reports that in Scotland, visits to Rosslyn Chapel increased fivefold and the Louvre was giving Da Vinci Code audio tours. Westminster Abbey has even issued tour guides with information sheets to help them correct the factual errors from the book, because guides in the abbey have been harrased with questions from curious tourists.

There are more examples of using movies for city branding in one of my previous posts.

The plaque at the southern end of the meridian at Saint-Sulpice (photo by Erik R.)

So, when you’ll go to the beach and start reading your summer novels, watch out for brands. Some of them will fit the story perfectly, some of them won’t. Some will be included in the movie (if they’ll make one), some won’t. In any case, if you’ll see an interesting example of product placement in the books, please report it to Brands & Films.

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