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For example, the producers of a film or television program may be paid to incorporate and present specific brands of automobiles or consumer electronics within, or works produced by vertically integrated conglomerates (such as Sony) may include placements of products from their other divisions as a form of corporate synergy.

In the 21st century, the use of product placement on television has grown, particularly to combat the wider use of digital video recorders that can skip traditional commercial breaks within television programming, and to engage with younger demographics.

Tapping product placement channels can be particularly valuable for movies when a vintage product is required—such as a sign or bottle—that is not readily available.

One of the earliest examples is The Garage, a Buster Keaton/"Fatty" Arbuckle comedy which featured the logo of Red Crown gasoline in several scenes (although there is no definitive proof that this product placement was paid for). Mabuse the Gambler (1922) contained a prominent title card in the opening credits reading "The gowns of the female stars were designed by Vally Reinecke and made in the fashion studios of Flatow-Schädler und Mossner." Among notable silent films to feature product placement was Wings (1927), the first to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Fritz Lang's film M (released in 1931) shows a banner display for Wrigley's PK Chewing Gum, for approximately 20–30 seconds.

He condemned the practice as harmful to movie theaters. An editorial in Harrison's Reports criticized the collaboration between the Corona Typewriter company and First National Pictures when a Corona typewriter appeared in the film The Lost World (1925).

Harrison's Reports criticized several incidents of Corona typewriters appearing in mid-1920s films.

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She calls for a "life saver" and Groucho Marx tosses her a Life Savers candy.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) depicts a young boy with aspirations to be an explorer, displaying a prominent copy of National Geographic.

In Love Happy (1949), Harpo cavorts on a rooftop among various billboards and at one point escapes from the villains on the old Mobil logo, the "Flying Red Horse".

The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit film series featured conspicuous placements.

The film ET is often cited for its multiple, obvious placements.

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