The all-in-one computer, with a translucent Bondi blue and white case, sits on actress Kathy Kinney's character Mimi Bobeck's desk in the half-hour Warner Bros. sitcom. Bobeck, with her garish makeup and eccentric ways, plays Drew Carey's colorful nemesis.
"Mimi wears a lot of blue eyeshadow so at the outset of the season we approached the producers and said the iMac's quite a colorful product, it would be perfect on Mimi's desk," said Suzanne Forlenza, senior manager for product placement and entertainment promotions at Apple. "We aggressively place our products on TV and film as a complement to our other marketing efforts."
Apple is not the only company that places products in film and TV, and this is not the first time the Apple has placed its products on the small and silver screens.
Apple upgraded Jerry Seinfeld with a new system for each of the last eight seasons his show was on the air. Last year Seinfeld concluded with a 20th anniversary Macintosh in Jerry's apartment. Macintoshes have also appeared in movies such as Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, and Independence Day.
The company tries to carefully place its products in real-life settings. iMac typically appears in school room settings, or in the home, Forlenza said. Likewise, the company's high-end "G3" line, targeted at multimedia professionals and the publishing markets, is placed in related shows.
The set of Just Shoot Me, which revolves around the fictitious Blush, an in-your-face fashion magazine, features both iMac and G3 models. NBC's Suddenly Susan, starring Brooke Shields, is set in a fictitious San Francisco periodical office. The set is home to G3 desktops, G3 PowerBooks, and the Apple Studio Display.
Most companies, including Apple, do not pay for product placements anymore, Forlenza said.
"Most of the industry has gone away from fee-based product placements," she said. "It really is mutually beneficial, we get exposure and they save time and money [on props]."