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Cheers Product Placement 41 Years Later Still Delivering For Brand Partners

Stacy Jones
Stacy Jones
May 11, 2023 at 9:15 AM

5 minute read

The Power Of Product Placement

With the rise of streaming platforms and their libraries of owned content, we have access to an endless supply of classic shows to binge-watch. And as we re-watch old favorites like Cheers, we can't help but wonder about the brands that made an impact on the show and how effective their product placement really was.

Whether you're a marketing guru or a pop culture fanatic, there's something for everyone to learn in this exploration of the power of product placement in old TV series. In this blog, Hollywood Branded takes a closer look at some of the brands that won big in Cheers and the lasting impact of their product placement and the effectiveness of product placement in general, exploring its power in other forms of media like video games and music videos.

41 Years Cheers Product Placment Blog - 2.21.23

Streaming Platforms + Old Series

I live and breathe entertainment, and my husband does the same - plus add in his 5 am EPL, afternoon baseball, the longest golf tournaments ever, and whatever else is on in the world of sports. This means we have much TV 24/7 to always be up to speed on whatever drives pop culture.

Eventually, we somehow run out of new things to watch (or to have running in the background).  As of late, we've gotten on a kick of old TV thanks to streamers serving them up in easy, non-stop binge-watching.  Part of the power of the streamers outside of Netflix is their powerhouse of libraries of owned content.  They've made themed and curated channels you can watch, like Peacock's 80s sitcom or Law & Order media. 

This brings me to my current viewing existence of season after season of Cheers. I was always just a little too young to appreciate the series then, despite it being one my Boston-born father loved to watch. Fun fact: Did you know that when Cheer's debuted on NBC in 1982, they were #77 of the 77 least popular shows on the air?

And in year two? Number one.  And the rest - is history.  

Today that wouldn't happen. The network big whigs would take one look at those stats and lack of ad dollar interest by the media behemoths... and adios the show would go. Instead, Cheers lasted 11 seasons, becoming one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed sitcoms ever. 

And that would have been a shame for the plethora of product placement for prominently featured brands who were there to help Sam and the gang tell a better story.

Cheers - NBC Series - Where To Watch

Brands That Are Still Celebrating Their Win

Here's a look at which brands won big at the time... and now still, FORTY-ONE YEARS LATER. Product placement is still delivering - it's fair to say that whatever the brands paid, including the time it took to coordinate getting the product to set, has paid off. 

THAT IS CRAZY TALK!!!!!  And some marketing power.

It's impossible to know the exact viewer reach, but here are some rough, difficult-to-understand, precise numbers of people who have watched Cheers since its premiere in 1982, but we have some estimates.

  • During its original run, Cheers was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows on television. Its series finale in 1993 was watched by an estimated 84.4 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched television events ever.

  • Since then, the show has continued to be popular in syndication, with reruns on various networks worldwide. According to a report from Nielsen in 2013, Cheers was the fourth most-watched syndicated program in the United States, with an average of 3.9 million viewers per episode. PER EPISODE. 

  • Given that the show has continued to air in syndication in the years since that report was published, it's likely that HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of millions more people have watched Cheers since its premiere in 1982. 

Cheers 25th Anniversary Review - Why Cheers Is Still a Great Sitcom 25  Years After Its Finale

Some Of The Brand Winners

For anyone who still questions the value of product placement,  I'll take one TV show over a single ad unit any day of the week. It makes you wonder why every brand marketer must rise to embrace product placement's power.   And they aren't - which means those savvy brand marketers can be easily positioned to win more than their fair share of screen time.

That Gay Episode: How Sam Malone Showed Acceptance Is Macho On 'Cheers' |  Decider

Most often for free, and on occasion as a value-add to media, like these brands did in Cheers:

  1. Amtrak - The train company sponsored the show in the early 1990s, and its logo was seen in some episodes.
  2. American Airlines - The airline sponsored the show, and its logo was visible on the set, particularly in the airport scenes.
  3. AT&T - The phone company was a frequent sponsor of the show, and its logo was often seen on the phone in the bar.
  4. Cadillac - The car company was featured in some episodes, including one in which the character Norm Peterson buys a Cadillac.
  5. Campbell's Soup - In one episode, the character of Carla Tortelli (one of the regulars at the bar) mentions that she used to work at a Campbell's Soup factory.
  6. Chevrolet - The car company sponsored the show in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and its products were featured in several episodes.
  7. Coca-Cola - In addition to Pepsi products, Coca-Cola products were also featured on the show. In one episode, Norm Peterson (one of the regulars at the bar) is seen drinking Coca-Cola.
  8. Colgate - The brand's toothpaste was featured in an episode where the characters compete in a tooth-brushing competition.
  9. Dunkin' Donuts - In one episode, the character of Coach is seen eating a donut from Dunkin' Donuts.
  10. Gillette - The razor company sponsored the show; its logo was visible on some of the character's razors.
  11. Grey Poupon - The mustard brand was featured in a memorable scene in which the character of Cliff Clavin brings a jar of Grey Poupon to the bar and tries to impress the other regulars.
  12. Hanes - The clothing brand sponsored the show, and its logo was visible on some of the character's T-shirts.
  13. Heineken - The beer brand was featured in several episodes, including when Sam Malone temporarily switched to serving Heineken in his bar.
  14. Jell-O - In a memorable storyline, the character of Norm Peterson becomes obsessed with eating Jell-O shots.
  15. Lipton tea - In one episode, the character of Cliff Clavin (the postman) shares his love for Lipton tea with the other regulars at the bar.
  16. M&M's - In one episode, the character of Woody Boyd tries to impress his girlfriend by spelling out "I love you" with M&M's on the bar.
  17. Maxwell House - Sam Malone makes a pot using Maxwell House coffee in one episode.
  18. Miller Lite - While Sam Adams was the beer of choice for Sam Malone, other beer brands were also featured on the show. Miller Lite was a frequent sponsor of Cheers and was often seen in the bar.
  19. Oldsmobile - The car company sponsored the show in the early 1990s, and its cars were featured in some episodes. In one episode, Sam Malone drives an Oldsmobile Achieva.
  20. Pepsi - The show featured several characters drinking Pepsi products, including Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew. In some episodes, the Pepsi logo was also visible in the bar.
  21. Perrier - The mineral water brand was featured in several episodes, including one in which the character of Frasier Crane orders a Perrier.
  22. Polaroid - The camera company sponsored the show, and its logo was visible in the bar.
  23. Quaker Oats - In one episode, the character of Norm Peterson is seen eating a bowl of oatmeal made with Quaker Oats.
  24. Sam Adams beer - This beer brand was a favorite of the main character Sam Malone, who owned the titular bar. The brand was often mentioned by name and prominently displayed in the bar.
  25. Snickers - In one episode, the character of Woody Boyd (who works as a bartender at Cheers in later seasons) gives a speech in which he mentions eating a Snickers bar to calm his nerves.
  26. Spalding - The sports equipment brand was featured in several episodes, including one in which Sam Malone teaches his employees to play using a Spalding basketball.
  27. Tabasco - The hot sauce was used as a plot point in one episode when a character tries to use it to revive a lobster.
  28. Taster's Choice - In a memorable storyline, the character of Rebecca Howe (who takes over as manager of the bar in later seasons) becomes obsessed with Taster's Choice instant coffee.
  29. Xerox - The copier company sponsored the show, and its logo was visible in the bar.
  30. 7-Eleven - The convenience store chain was featured in an episode where the characters go on a late-night snack run to a 7-Eleven.

The show was known for its clever use of product placement to create a sense of realism in the bar setting and generate additional revenue. Cheers has remained popular in syndication and continues to be watched by millions of viewers around the world.

Like me, I have always associated Sam Adams with Cheers, so the science experiment is officially done. Product Placement works. I'm proof. :)

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Topics: Product Placement & Branded Content

Stacy Jones

Written by Stacy Jones

Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.


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