Although subliminal advertising is not currently practised, the deliberate insertion of commercial products as props in various forms of entertainment, especially film and television, is increasingly sought. Cinematic product placement became common in the 1980s and has now become rationalized as a specialized branch of advertising. Increasingly advertisers recognize that movies are an alternative advertising and promotional medium with an essentially captive audience. Corporations may gain control (or fund producers) of entertainment in order to be able to influence the content of the film, building in verbal or visual plugs for specific products. Such plugs need not be overt since the effect may be achieved through positive associations with the star or with the emotions aroused. Such vehicles are also deliberately used to build negative associations around a competitor's product by ensuring its presence at a negative moment in the film.
The rise of product placement has damaged movie narrative, not only through the shattering effect of individual plugs, but also more profoundly through the partial transfer of creative authority out of the hands of film-making professionals and into the purely quantitative universe of the company executives. It represents the usurpation by advertising of those authorial prerogatives once held by directors and screenwriters. The basic decisions of film-making are now often made indirectly by advertisers concerned with their value as vehicles for the presentation of products.
There is a long tradition of using entertainment to carry messages not explicitly sought by the audience. Morality plays are a prime example. Many films are financed by groups concerned to put over a particular message, possibly with religious, moralistic or human rights overtones. Soap opera may be deliberately used to carry moralistic messages of a certain kind.