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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – From iPads to iPhones to Macbooks, Apple products have become ubiquitous in everyday life. It seems that brand dominance extends to the silver screen as well.

The 2010 “Brandcameo Product Placement Awards,” awarded annually by the branding blog BrandChannel, have once again given the top spot to Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) for appearing in more number one movies than any other brand.

According to the site, 30% of the 33 films that reached number one at the box office in 2010 featured at least one cameo from an Apple product, with iPods, laptops and iPhones appearing in numerous hit movies. Amazingly, that’s a significant decline in Apple’s movie appearances: The brand popped up in 44% of number one films in 2009, and nearly 50% in 2008.

The other big winner was Iron Man 2, which won the award for “Achievement in Product Placement in a Single Film” with 64 placements, including Apple, Dr. Pepper and Starbucks. And the blog gave a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to handgun manufacturer Glock, which has become something of weapon of choice in Hollywood action films over the years.

Entertainment marketing is nothing new, with the appearance of Reese’s Pieces in E.T. generally identified as the first instance of product placement in a major Hollywood film. But Abe Sauer, a writer for BrandChannel who introduced the Product Placement Awards in 2005, says that formal product placement agreements have become much more common in the last decade.

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“Up until 2001 it was kind of being done the old way: Prop directors had relationships with people who kept them well-stocked with their products,” says Sauer. There were little if any financial considerations, in other words – a car manufacturer might provide filmmakers with automobiles to use as they please, but there was no guarantee that the director would zoom in on the hood ornament.

But that began to change in the late 90s after James Bond’s use of the BMW Z3 in 1995’s GoldenEye resulted in big sales for the car. The result was that more companies drew up formal agreements with studios looking for help financing their movies. Ford (Stock Quote: F), for instance, paid upwards of $30 million for promotional consideration in another Bond movie, 2002’s Die Another Day, according to Sauer.

“If you’re just supplying products, you don’t have a lot of control in how they’re shown,” he says. “If you have official agreement, you’re going to have a lot of control.”

As for Apple, the company is tight-lipped about what, if anything, it pays to have its products appear on the silver screen, and did not return calls for comment. Still, not every product that appears on screen is there because of a formal agreement. Indeed, a brand as popular as Apple may appear in movies without needing to pay for the placement.

“The director of I am Number Four [DJ Caruso] is a raving Apple fan… and if you look at that movie, there’s Apple products all over the screen,” says Sauer. “A lot of times it’s just something the filmmaker liked.”

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