I was flicking through MTV this week and somehow landed on Will.i.am’s One More Chance video. Quite apart from the fact that I cannot for love nor money work out what sample he’s using, it struck me how blatant the use of Blackberry gadgets throughout the video is.
Now we all know that product placement if rife throughout the world of entertainment and we’ve all almost switched off to the fact that Jack Bauer only drives a Ford, and Carrie Bradshaw sits in front of her PowerBook for at least 12 hours of every day. Mobile phones have been a big part of this movement for years, but now the pace is picking up.
Apple itself does very well from product placement, purely because the unique nature of its design. Most movies that are made today will have plenty of mobile phones in them, but it’s often very difficult to tell the difference between a Sony Ericsson, Nokia or Samsung. This is why when mobile are placed on screen, they’ll normally be extremely unusual, unreleased or ridiculously futuristic.
Subsequently, I’ve decided to round up the hottest phone placements in movies, just so I can geek-out for a bit:
1. Neo’s Nokia 8110 in The Matrix (1999)
Ok, so it’s old news now, but back then - the swish slider design and ergonomic styling was completely ahead of its time. In the film, the slider was spring-loaded (which never made it to production), but was included on the Nokia 7110. To this day, owners of the 7110 will try pass off their handset as one of the original Matrix phones - and fail miserably.
Samsung provided a custom designed phone for the Reloaded sequel on the back of Nokia’s success (the SPH-N270). Its progressive styling worked on-set, but didn’t translate into reality and a lack of features ensured it was lusted after only by die-hard Matrix fans.
2. Dark Knight’s Nokia Tube (2008)
It was a bit of a coup for the Batman guys to bag a previously unheard of touch-screen handset from Nokia. In the film, it was showcased by Morgan Freeman himself, allowing him to send sonar waves in 3D and pull up a map of his location. Swish. It’s smaller and more slender than the iPhone as well…
3. Nic Cage’s 8MM Motorola (1996)
Rubbish film, sweet phone. Mr ‘I’m the worst actor in Hollywood’ Cage is regularly seen pulling comedy grimaces at dodgy snuff films while extending that wonderful bendy aerial.
All jokes aside, the Motorola StarTAC was still the first phone (arguably) to be made in a ‘flip format’ and the holder of a multitude of firsts. It was the first phone to feature the vibrating alert feature dubbed ‘VibraCall’, and was also considered the smallest (94 mm x 55 mm x 19 mm) and lightest (94 grams) handset available at the time. ‘Inspired by Star Trek’ says it all really.
4. Bond’s affair with Sony Ericsson (2006 onwards)
As Daniel Craig was cast into one of the most lusted-after roles in Hollywood’s history, so dawned the era of the petite, sleek Sony Ericsson smartphones. Although SE had already placed a few phones in ‘Die Another Day’ – Craig took this up with gusto. The K800 and X790 models in Casino Royale did make me think though – Bond’s gadgets using to be slick, luxury items that you’d never dream of actually owning. Yet here we are, with his actual phone available to buy, albeit in a limited run. I guess Craig’s introduction of a rougher, grass roots Bond reflects this. Anyway – lets hope Quantum of Solace doesn’t disappoint (the C902 apparently).
5. An actual Transformer (2008)
You can’t get better than Transformers for all out gadgetry in a movie. And after being decapitated halfway through, Frenzy takes the form of Megan Fox’s Nokia 8800 Sirocco.
Then in a double-whammy, to demonstrate the power of the All Spark, a Nokia N93i mobile formerly owned by Anthony Anderson is placed inside a protective glass box. Slightly manic Agent Simmons comments on how Nokia phones are particularly nasty due to their Japanese origins. Rachael Taylor’s character remarks that Nokia is actually Finnish, and the Nokia robot is born.
In the original script, the Nokia phone was actually an iPod. It acted in the same way as the phone, and played Suicidal Tendencies' ‘Master of No Mercy’. Michael Bay, the producer, explained on his DVD audio commentary that Apple refused to license the iPod for use. Oh well.
Special mentions: Arthur Dent’s Nokia 7610 in Hitchhiker’s Guide, and LG in Iron Man (for comedic reasons only).