Brand placement within TV shows and movies is an invaluable form of viral advertising - and Apple's products are highly visible in Hollywood.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple's products have been featured 250 times on 38 different primetime shows - and all in just four months.

The report explains that Apple has spent millions on providing free Macs in Hollywood for almost two decades. The result has been that in Tinseltown, at least, Apple has 90 per cent of the exposure, despite its small market share.

Self-fulfilling brand advantage

"Apple has had perhaps the greatest success of any brand in embedding its products into film and TV without paying for the integrations," it states.

Movie and TV show-makers like Apple's cool brand cachet and its attractive products. The company's creations are nowadays so synonymous with consumer culture that they even appear as part of the story line.

Among a number of examples of this, the report notes a scene in the US version of The Office in which the co-workers tried to trade in their office party gifts for an iPod.

"IPod has never paid for placement because Apple is cool," Ruben Igielko-Herrlich, founding partner and CEO of Propaganda Global Entertainment Marke observed: "If you're a cool brand or an affluent, prestigious brand, it's not going to cost you what it's going to cost fast-moving consumer products like soft drinks or detergents. When you have that kind of image and aura, you don't pay for it."