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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

If you do a Google search for “product placement” and “movies,” the story of E.T. and Reese’s Pieces is guaranteed to come up. In the 1982 Steven Spielberg blockbuster, a boy named Elliot leaves a trail of the candies for the lovable alien, who follows them to the boy’s house. The rest is history.

Spielberg originally wanted to use the much more popular M&M’s in the movie, but when the filmmakers approached the Mars company, they were turned down. Hershey, on the other hand, said yes, and subsequently saw their product appear in one of the highest-grossing films of all time. They benefited immensely from the placement, and according to a 1983 People magazine article, their profits rose 65% as a result.

Photo: Universal Pictures