In 2001, a few years after “Forrest Gump” (1994), filmmaker Robert Zemeckis reunited with actor Tom Hanks for another classic: “Alone in the world”. A huge masterpiece, the feature film has an unexpected particularity since it offers one of the longest product placements in the history of cinema.
Alone in the world : the little classic by Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis, you must know him. It was he who staged some great classics like the trilogy Back to the future, Forrest Gump, Contact and so Alone in the world. In 2001 he reunited with Tom Hanks for this extraordinary adventure. That of a man who finds himself trapped alone on a desert island after an air crash. The protagonist, embodied by the actor, finds himself forced to go beyond his own limits to stay alive.
Twice Oscar nominee, the feature film is obviously famous for the mind-blowing performance of Tom Hanks. The comedian lost more than 22 kg to get into the skin of the character and offers a totally unforgettable incarnation. On the box office side, the work, produced by the 20th Century Fox, also proved to be successful with over 429 million dollars in revenue for a budget of 90 million.
FedEx’s Huge Product Placement
Alone in the world may contain longest product placement in movie history (with The Interns, where Google is at the center of the plot for almost two hours). Indeed, Robert Zemeckis’ film spent a true partnership with the delivery company FedEx. Already, Chuck Noland, the character of Tom Hanks, is a FedEx employee. He then takes the plane of his company which crashes in the middle of the Pacific. Here is our hero stranded on his island with a few FedEx packages as resources (including the famous Wilson volleyball). In this way, the transport company returns regularly throughout the film. The production has even entered into a partnership with the brand. Indeed, FedEx provided all transport between the mainland and the volcanic island Monu-riki (in the northwest of the Fiji Islands) where filming takes place. The boss of the company, Frederick W. Smith even appears in his own role at the start of the film.
This long advertisement for FedEx (143 minutes all the same), is not an ordinary product placement. Indeed, generally, product placement in a film lasts a short time, whether discreet or not. Like for example the infamous sequence where Brad Pitt drinks Pepsi in World War Z. Even if it’s quite crude, it’s fast and it does not impact the plot. Right here, FedEx is part of the story, and is a central element of the narrative. We even invented a name for it: the advertisement (or advertorial in French). It is the mixture of an advertisement for a product, advertising, and a show, like a movie, entertainment. A crazy opportunity for FedEx. Because with Alone in the world, The message is clear : FedEx is still delivering its packages. It’s hard to do better as a marketing tool. Alone in the world had such an impact, FedEx rode on the film’s triumph by subsequently producing an ad inspired by the footage by Robert Zemeckis: