Here’s an interesting glimpse into the world of product placement. As you can see, in the early 80s, now defunct tobacco giant Brown & Williamson hired a company by the name of Associated Film Promotions (also now defunct) to secure screen time for their cigarettes in major motion pictures. This particular letter outlines their plan to have Sylvester Stallone promote the products in his next five films – a plan which he agreed to (Pic) – in return for $500,000. Equally as interesting is the stark reminder that Stallone was extremely close to starring in (and directing) The Godfather Part III at the time, as Joey Zasa.
An AFP, Inc. Company
June 14, 1983
Mr. Sylvester Stallone
1570 Amalfi Drive
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Dear Mr. Stallone:
In furtherance of the agreements reached between yourself and Associated Film Promotions, Inc. representing their client Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. (B & W), I wish to put in summary form the various understandings and details regarding B & W’s appearances and usage in your next five scheduled motion pictures. B & W is very pleased to become associated with the following schedule of films and to have you incorporate personal usage for all films other than the character of Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV, where other leads will have product usage, as well as the appearance of signage (potentially ring).
The following is the current list of the next five (5) minimum films for B & W’s appearance. It is understood that if production commitments change the order or appearance of any the group of films to be released, B & W will appear in a substituted film. The only non-appearance for B & W will be by mutual consent of both parties in which case another Sylvester Stallone movie will be arranged for substitution.
The initial schedule of films is:
A). Rhinestone Cowboy
B). Godfather III
E). Rocky IV
In consideration for these extensive film appearances of B & W products, Brown and Williamson agrees to forward to Robert Kovoloff and Associated Film Promotions, Inc. their initial deposit to you of Two-Hundred-Fifty-Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00). This represents a fifty percent (50%) deposit of the total financial commitment by B & W. The subsequent Two-Hundred-Fifty-Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) is agreed to be forwarded in five (5) equal payments of Fifty-Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) each payable at the inception of production of each participating film.
On behalf of our client Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., we wish to thank you for this long term commitment, and look forward to each release from the excellent schedule of films that they will participate in.
Very truly yours,
James F. Ripslinger
Senior Vice President
cc: James Coleman, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.