Chinese Product Placement in The Big Bang Theory

by Yiping Yang/Latitude News

American companies place products in films and television shows all the time. Now Chinese brands are also getting into the act, placing their products in American movies and television programs that Chinese viewers watch.

The Big Bang Theory is an example. The show consistently attracts high ratings among American viewers. It is also one of the most popular American TV shows in China.

Starting in March, Chinese dairy giant Inner Mongolia Yili began placing the company’s Shuhua milk in the show. (Above, a Shuhua milk carton appears in a scene set in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment.) Yili and The Big Bang Theory have a contract that lasts through August.

Of course, companies can’t waltz onto set and simply pay for product placement. Sina, a Chinese news site, notes that American production companies only accept products that fit into the shows’ story lines. Shuhua milk appeared on The Big Bang Theory because the product is lactose-free, so lactose-intolerant Leonard can drink it.

Chinese companies usually advertise their products during concerts or Chinese television series featuring pop singers. But six years ago, the Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion and Accessories Company was the first Chinese company to make the leap by inserting ads and products into the Transformers series.

The fashion company’s logo appeared on a billboard and a van during Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009. Two years later, in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, actor Shia LaBeouf wore a Metersbonwe T-shirt in the film.

“Unlike our other marketing strategies, that brand placement in a Hollywood movie had a greater impact on young people nationwide,” Wei Xie, Metersbonwe’s brand manager, told China Daily. Placing brands into American films and movies involves “small investment, big turnover,” he says.

Big turnover is right. Five days after releasing Transformers 3, Metersbonwe sold more than one million T-shirts.

But not every Chinese brand is as lucky as Metersbonwe in extending their markets to the U.S. Sometimes Chinese companies decline to put their products onscreen if they feel American directors won’t cast them in the best light, according to Southern Weekly, a newspaper based in Guangzhou.

Every now and again, we'll republish a story from our friends at Latitude News. They do good work — check them out! They're on Twitter and Facebook, too.

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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

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7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

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13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

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