IN 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE', APPLE INSISTED TOM CRUISE USE A MAC WHILE VILLAINS USED IBM
Late last week, The Telegraph's Jack Taylor posted an article with the headline, "The complicated, colourful history of Apple products in films." The main thrust of the article is Apple's insistence through the years that on screen, only "the good guys" are to be shown using Apple products:
Over the last few decades, blockbuster films have been awash with Apple products, from iPhones and iPads, to MacBooks and iPods. And, while most companies shell out millions for the privilege of getting product placement on screen, like Heineken and its eye-watering deal to replace James Bond's martini in Skyfall, Apple doesn't pay a penny.
Suzanne Forlenza organised Apple's film and TV marketing almost single-handedly in the '90s, and worked out a system still in use today. "Frankly, we are absolutely overwhelmed with requests," she told the Irish Times in 1996, "The good news is we have established excellent relationships throughout Hollywood, so we have first crack, typically, at all the big films."
"We provide the computers requested for on camera usage on loan, all being due back to us at the end of the filming."
Forlenza made clear that Apple products could only ever be portrayed in a positive light, withholding permission where this couldn't be guaranteed. In the first Mission: Impossible film (1996), for example, she insisted that Tom Cruise use a Mac while the villains had IBMs. "We have a standing insistence that [Apple] will only be in the hands of the good guys."
This philosophy hasn't changed much since, as Knives Out director Rian Johnson was frustrated to discover: "Apple lets you use iPhones in movies, but – and this is very pivotal if you're ever watching a mystery movie – bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera."
The tech giant was one of the first companies to realise the value of lifestyle branding through film and TV, whether that be the high-tech glamour of Mission: Impossible or the socialite chic of Sex and the City. Below, the company's most influential product placement spots.
The list of films and TV shows that comes next in the article includes Mission: Impossible:
One of the earliest appearances of Apple in film is Tom Cruise's aptly-named PowerMac in the action spy thriller, which rivals Bond for its love of high-tech gadgets. Apple made a deal with the producers to feature clips from the film in their adverts in exchange for the laptop being front and centre during Cruise's hacking escapades. Marketing manager Jon Holtzman said: "We saved almost $500,000 in production costs – and got Brian De Palma to direct and Tom Cruise to act in it."
The commercial for the PowerBook can be viewed on YouTube. What remains unspoken in all of this is how De Palma subverts the whole idea of "good guys" and "bad guys" in Mission: Impossible, even though, yes, Tom Cruise is the hero of the piece. Placing Cruise's hero in the same position at the end that Jon Voight (as Jim Phelps) had been sitting in at the start of the film indicates a potential blurring of the lines, as does Ethan Hunt's taking on the role of "Job" and breaking into the CIA to steal the NOC list. Similarly, the characters using MacBooks in De Palma's Passion are all just as bad as they are good. De Palma focuses in on the MacBooks with their Apple logos twice in that film, highlighting the product as well as the two sets of characters using them, echoing the blurring of the good/bad lines in Mission: Impossible.