In SE comments elsewhere 1, 2, 3 I talked about barriers of mixing advertising and spaceflight at NASA. In one I said:

...I'm not sure if Kubrick include any advertisements in his visionary extrapolation of what spaceflight would be like in this century in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey....

I've seen the film several times but a long time ago, including when it was first released, and I have a sense that there might have been oblique references to corporations, but that there were no corporate logos shown or company names mentioned.

This might have been partly as a cinematic technique; removing things familiar helps the audience's feeling that they are in a different time, but with Kubrick's attention to reality looking realistic, it seems like he might have snuck some in there.

Did Kubrick's film (Wikipedia, IMDb) or his and Clarke's screenplay make any reference to the names of companies, or show any evidence of the existence of advertisements for the future year 2001?

  • Saw it a few years back on Netflix. Might be there still. Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 12:50

1 Answer 1


There is at least one reference to Pan-Am the American airline.

The Orion III Spaceplane is a sub-orbital spacecraft owned by Pan American World Airways and used in transit from Earth to Space Station V. It was about the size of a Boeing 737, and could seat approximately 32 passengers and at least 3 crew members, consisting of a flight attendant, and two pilots.

from Orion_III_Spaceplane

Orion III Spaceplane from Museum of Science Fiction


@Valorum has also provided an excellent link to a list of product placements in 2001. In Everything2.com's Product placement in 2001: A Space Odyssey user jmpz mentions the following:

  • Pan Am: Pan Am was at the top of their game in the 1960s, the company was synonymous with luxurious, cutting edge air travel so it is only appropriate that their space shuttle would be the carrier of choice to the space station. The docking sequence choreographed to a waltz, shows the then familiar blue globe logo on the arriving ship. Pan Am did not make it to the millenium unfortunately.
  • IBM: In 1968, IBM was the computer company. Their logo is clearly visible on the displays of the space shuttle. It also makes an appearance on the tablets that Dave uses to watch the news aboard the Discovery and on other assorted hardware such as the forearm mounted controls of Dave's spacesuit. There is also the infamous one-letter-removed-from-IBM HAL 9000 computer. Arthur C. Clarke claims that this was coincidental and that he would have changed the name if he had realized this.
  • Bell Picture Phone: In a very famous scene, Dr. Heywood Floyd makes a call to his young daughter from the orbiting space station on a Bell picture phone booth with a window that clearly shows the rotation of the station. The Bell System was of course defunct by 2001 having morphed into AT&T.
  • American Express Card: American Express submitted a "smart ring" that was not used in the film. However, though it is not very clear in the film, Dr. Floyd pays for the call with an American Express credit card that he inserts into the phone.
  • Aeroflot: One of the few brands appearing in the movie that made it to 2001 is the Russian flag carrier, Aeroflot. In the scene where Dr. Floyd bumps into Russian colleagues, the stewardesses accompanying them are carrying bags with the Aeroflot logo.
  • Hilton Hotels: The scene above is set in the orbital station in what is presumably the lobby of the station's Orbiter Hilton Hotel. There is also a sign promoting the Hover Hilton.
  • Howard Johnson’s: In the space station a sign is visible for the Howard Johnson's Earthlight Room.
  • General Motors: Once aboard the Pan Am lunar lander Aries the onboard viewscreens show General Motors prototype cars.
  • Parker Pens: With elegant spareness of stage artifice, Kubrick shorthands weightlessness by having a Parker pen hover in the air next to a sleeping Dr. Floyd, where it is retrieved by the stewardess and placed back in his shirt pocket.
  • RCA/Whirlpool: The stewardess aboard the Aries get meals from the RCA/Whirlpool zero gravity food preparation unit.
  • Hamilton: Proto digital watch worn by Frank Poole aboard Discovery. An analog version was produced by Hamilton in small quantities under the name Odysee (due to copyright issues Hamilton could not reference the film). They still show up occasionally on ebay.
  • Parker Brothers: Parker Brothers provided a version of pentominoes that Frank Poole was to play with HAL on a computer screen but the game was changed to chess. In the expectation that there would be demand for the game they produced a board version called Universe which had a limited run when the scene got scrapped. The game survives today as the popular Cathedral game.
  • Macy’s: There is a scene that did not make it into the movie where Dr. Floyd places a video call and orders the bush baby that his daughter wanted for her birthday from an attendant at a Macy’s console.
  • BBC: Frank Poole sits down to his dinner and watching the news on his pad, brought to him by BBC 12
  • 4
    Interestingly enough, none of these brand names make it to Clarke's novel, save for a reference to a "Bell System vision phone".
    – desertnaut
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 10:42
  • 17
    There's an obvious reason for the difference; in the film, you can just have the product placement there and no one has to refer to it. One of the most common over the last few years is Dell. Odds are if you've seen the back of desktop monitor on TV and movies, you'll see the Dell logo. That's a sort of detail that would have no reason to come up in a book without some ridiculously clunky exposition. "Let's look at the image on our Dell monitor!" Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 16:49
  • 9
    "One of the few brands appearing in the movie that made it to 2001" -- I don't understand this comment, as every one of those companies still exists today in 2019 except for Pan Am, Bell and Parker Brothers (although the name is in use by Hasbro). Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 17:25
  • 12
    "The Orion III Spaceplane is a sub-orbital spacecraft" - if it could dock with the space station, it would be an orbital spacecraft.
    – Skyler
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 18:06
  • 4
    It's worth noting that the "Bell System Vision Phone" actually existed. "In the United States AT&T's Bell Labs conducted extensive research and development of videophones, eventually leading to public demonstrations of its trademarked Picturephone product and service in the 1960s."
    – Aster
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 19:59

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