Where did it come from? In the 1940s, US 'soap operas' - those melodramatic sagas filled with tragedy and romance - entertained millions, while nudging viewers in the direction of detergent made by Procter & Gamble or Unilever. Ever since, FMCG companies have sought to get their products onto your screen. The kitchen in that spacious New York apartment rented by Monica Geller in Friends seemed to have lots of familiar brands staring out from the shelves at the cameras. The cast were regularly clad in clothes from Gap or other recognisable outlets. And Sex and the City featured a fake erotic campaign for Absolut vodka.
Where is it going? The new film Somers Town, set in that dull part of London between Euston and Kings Cross, was funded by Eurostar. No new James Bond film can be created without product placement on a massive scale. The trend was satirised in the film The Truman Show (1998), where products were thrust at the camera regardless of the plot. And Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, had to fight hard to keep product placement out of last year's feature-length offering.
Fad quotient (out of 10):
Seven (sponsored by 7/11 stores).