Apple's most obvious product placement in movies and TV

From 1990s action movies like Mission Impossible to TV shows like House of Cards and Modern Family, Apple products occasionally find their way into the central plot.

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Everywhere you look

While Apple does not pay for product placement in TV shows and movies, that hasn't prevented Apple products from showing up in all kinds of places in the media. As for how it all happens behind the scenes, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller once explained that Apple has a point person who works closely with Hollywood to get Apple products as much screen time as possible.

While it's quite common to spot Apple products being used casually on any given program, there have been quite a few notable instances where either a) an Apple product has been a primary plot point or b) an Apple product is conspicuously referenced or seen during a pivotal scene.

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Credit: YouTube.com
Modern Family: Original iPad

One day before the original iPad launched in 2010, an entire episode of ABC's Modern Family centered on Phil Dunphy's excitement about getting Apple's first tablet, and his family's efforts to get him one on the day it was released.

When it comes to product placement, it doesn't get any better than this. Notably, the creator of Modern Family was the one who approached Apple about the idea, not the other way around.

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Sex and the City: Various Apple Laptops

For the entire duration of this hit show, Carrie Bradshaw, famously played by Sarah Jessica Parker, would narrate her weekly advice column while typing away on her trusty Mac laptop, the Apple logo often prominently displayed for extended periods of time. Given that the show ran for six seasons, Bradshaw's trusty Mac would periodically change with the times. Episode after episode, Bradshaw's computer got plenty of airtime.

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The Office: Video iPod

Apple's video iPod took center stage during a Christmas-themed episode from season two of NBC's The Office. The plot centered on the employees of Dunder-Miflin throwing a Christmas party and engaging in a game of Secret Santa. We soon realize that Michael Scott (the boss) spent way more than was allowed when he purchased a video iPod. Following that, acquiring the expensive video iPod became the primary focus of the game, and hence, the entire episode.

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The Simpsons: Mapple Store

In a somewhat iconic episode of The Simpsons from 2008, Apple products, along with then-CEO Steve Jobs, became the focal point of the episode. The episode kicks off with the Simpson family at the mall, where they soon find themselves in a Mapple Store, a spoof on the Apple Store. Inside, they see Mypods, Myphones, and even an old-school G4 Cube. The entire episode is essentially one long Apple parody with an impressive number of Apple references, including Apple's iconic "1984" Super Bowl ad and a biting jab at Apple's traditionally high prices.

Credit: YouTube.com
Mission Impossible: PowerBook

To help the public forget about another dismal financial quarter, Apple marketing manager Jon Holtzman struck a deal wherein an Apple PowerMac would be prominently be featured during the 1996 blockbuster Mission Impossible starring Tom Cruise. In return, Apple heavily promoted the film in its own commercials, including this one for the Macintosh Powerbook that suggests: "after you see the movie, you may want to pick up the book."

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House of Cards: All Apple everything

Crew members of the popular Netflix show have explained that Apple sent the production team thousands of dollars' worth of Apple equipment, from iPhones to iPads to iMacs. The equipment came with no stipulation, and the House of Cards team was free to do with it what they wanted. Apple just happens to have an extremely strong presence on the show. Texting via iMessage, for instance, is constantly being depicted on the screen in a rather overt way. Somewhat comically, astute viewers pinpointed one particular moment in an episode where a total of nine Apple devices were on screen at the same time.

Credit: YouTube.com
Futurama: The Apple Ecosystem

Futurama got in on the Apple spoof-fest with its 2010 episode titled "Attack of the Killer App." The episode, like The Simpsons episode before it, was rife with Apple references galore. Futurama comically depicted Apple fans as mindless zombies all too willing to hand over their hard-earned cash for overpriced items. When the character Fry, for example, is informed that an "eyePhone" he's about to purchase has poor reception and can't hold a charge, he abruptly interrupts and shouts, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"

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Independence Day: Apple PowerBook 5300

Apple's PowerBook 5300 played a central role in the plot of the 1996 Will Smith blockbuster Independence Day. If you recall, the character David, played by Jeff Goldblum, relies upon a PowerBook to infect the alien mother ship threatening earth. Not quite realistic, but it was impossible to ignore the Apple logo so prominently displayed on the silver screen, nor its role as the device that saves the world.

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Jurassic Park: Macintosh Quadra 700

The Mac Quadra is rather evident in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster hit Jurrasic Park and can be seen prominently as part of the park's command and control center. Indeed, the systems administrator who hacks into the park's system (played by Wayne Night, better known as Newman from Seinfeld) had Mac development software visible on his own computer screen.

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Credit: PC Mag
Seinfeld: Mac SE/30

For a number of seasons, Jerry Seinfeld's apartment was constantly adorned with a rather conspicuous Mac SE/30. Though Seinfeld never used it, it was always there, resting in his apartment on his desk in plain view. During the later seasons, the SE/30 was replaced by a PowerBook Duo and, interestingly enough, the wildly expensive Twentieth Anniversary Mac. If you go back and watch some reruns, it's impossible to miss.

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Modern Family: Apple FaceTime

In an episode of Modern Family that aired this month, the entire plot takes place "online" as we see developments unfold via iMessage and FaceTime video chats. What's more, the entire episode was filmed with consumer Apple devices – an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air 2 – earning extra publicity for Apple.

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24: Macs for the good guys, PCs for the villains

During the first few seasons of the Fox action thriller series 24, it was abundantly obvious that each type of character used a specific type of computer. Early on, good guys like Jack Bauer were always seen on Macs. Conversely, bad guys were always seen using Windows or generically branded PCs.