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Bill Gates & the Product Placement Companies He Owns

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

Article Summary:

Gates owns a product placement advertising group that makes ads for pharmaceutical and telecom companies he is invested in, including Gilead. He also owns the rights to many celebrities and influencers, including late night talk show hosts that speak about him like he can do no wrong. Also, Bill Gates once owned a collection of images of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and he sold the rights to China, who then censored them from the internet. What an asshole.

The name Bill Gates conjures thoughts of Windows 10 error screens and the $48 billion foundation he wreaks havoc with around the world so he can "save" it.

But, did you know Gates founded and currently owns a massive artificial intelligence product placement group? He sure does! It's called Branded Entertainment Network. The group also handles rights clearances and personality rights management for a very large portion of the entertainment industry.

Article: The Branded Entertainment Network Expands Partnership with The Producers Guild of America

With Americans consuming media for nearly 12 hours a day according to Nielsen, this is highly concerning.

Gates's reach into popular culture is staggering. His sphere of influence includes late night shows, movies like Talladega Nights, product placement in Netflix and Amazon Prime original series, Disney, Apple, popular Youtube channels, and Warner Media. That barely begins to cover the list.

Jimmy Kimmel selling KFC at the behest of Gates's company.


Bill Gates' New Mission: Getting Jimmy Kimmel to Hawk Chicken Wings

Bill Gates has established himself as the de facto middle man of funding and the visionary of modern philanthropy efforts. Just as flashy as Gates is with his charity efforts, he is silent about his infiltration of modern media. He has seized control of the means by which companies can advertise their products, the people and shows that advertise the products, and the platforms they are advertised on. He owns the very name, life rights, and public-facing images of many celebrities.

It is a HUGE mess.

BEN/Greenlight Promotional Video

How Did This Happen?

When Gates founded the company in 1989 (known then as Interactive Home Systems and later Corbis), his goal was to license and digitalize artwork/historic images for a digital frame concept his team was working on. He believed someday people might decorate their homes with a revolving display of digital artwork. That didn't pan out as expected, and in 1997 the company would pivot to focus on image and video licensing and ditch the frame altogether.

Over the years Gates acquired the rights to the Bettman Archive, the Sygma Collection, and a stock image company called ZEFA. It would later acquire rights to digital reproduction of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Gallery in London.

"In some sense the iconic photograph of Rosa Parks recreating her

quiet act of rebellion on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., belongs to every American. But as a practical matter, it belongs to Bill Gates."

In 2016, Corbis rebranded again into Branded Entertainment Network- the name being used currently. This came after Gates sold the image licensing portion of the business to Unity Glory International- part of the Visual China Group. During the sale, it was discovered that among the over 100 million photos and videos owned by Corbin were many files and photos from the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The Chinese Communist Party has gone to extreme lengths to conceal knowledge of the rebellion from its citizens, and many were worried the photos would be lost for good.

Those worries were not unfounded.

When CNN used to report actual news.

We are thrilled to add this treasure-house of valuable image assets to our premium brand portfolios. The transaction strengthens our dominant position in China's image industry, enhances our core competence in the global high-end image market, and marks a significant milestone on our journey of globalization.

- Amy Jun Liang, CEO of Visual China Group

A gallery of Tiananmen Square protest photos. (Swipe left to see more.)

How Extreme is Censorship by the CCP?

To this day, every year around June 4 the Chinese Communist Party rounds up political dissidents, human rights advocates, and families of Tiananmen Square victims to prevent them from gathering or speaking. The location is still to this day off limits to any foreign news outlets. References to the protests are banned in textbooks and print media, and the Great Firewall has been largely successful in scrubbing the topic from Google services and any other allusions to the topic. On social media, phrases such as "this day", "31 years" and "between spring and summer" are banned entirely.

"People will eventually understand that many issues today stem from social problems that weren't resolved in 1989," said Hu Jia, an activist under house arrest. "In a tyranny, they are deprived of a series of rights -- land grabs, forced home demolitions, educational inequality and environmental pollution are all along the same line."

With Bill Gates's sale of these images to Visual China Group, even more opportunities for digital censorship would arise, a topic covered by Christoph Rhage who is a visual artist and author who writes on the subject of Chinese culture.

"Log onto Corbis and try to look for identical search terms in English and Chinese," he said. "You will get different results."

In 2016, typing Tiananmen Square protests into Corbis Image search engine yielded a couple of photos of the protests. If Chinese characters were used, it resulted in only photos of celebrities. Searching for other controversial topics within China like Falun Gong 法轮功, and Tibet 西藏 yielded similar results.

A spokesman for Corbis did not respond at the time with an answer as to why this happened, and neither did anyone from the Gates Foundation respond to requests for comments.

Later, Visual China Group licensed the photos to Getty Images for usage outside China.

Worth Noting:

Before selling Corbis, in 2012 Gates was sued by Infoflows of Seattle and had to pay $12.75 Million in damages.


Seattle-based Infoflows — a business intelligence software company whose technology is used to monitor licensed digital content — was hired by Corbis to perform development work. But after gaining exposure to the Infoflows Fedmark service, Corbis allegedly terminated the contract and then claimed ownership of the technology. The suit alleged that Corbis filed a patent based on the Infoflows technology.
"We are pleased that the court of Appeals saw this case for what it was — repugnant conduct by executives of Corbis who attempted to deceive Infoflows and misappropriate its intellectual property and then cover their actions,” said Infoflows CEO Steve Stone.

Bill Gates and Today's Pop Culture Landscape

Despite push back at the time, Gates finalized the sale and moved on to the newest phase of his venture: guiding celebrity and influencer culture to sell things to the masses by shaping market trends. Seriously.

I Spy:

Tom Cruise, David and Victoria Beckham, Marilyn Monroe, Halo 5, Pitbull, Justin Bieber, Paul Rudd, Baskin Robbins, Heineken, Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Cadillac, Kevin Spacey*, Orange is the New Black, Shaquille O'Neal, iJustine, George Clooney, Ariana Grande, Muhammad Ali, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Pressley, William and Kate, Ellen Degeneres*, Skype, Jimmy Kimmel*, KFC, Rachael Ray, US Postal Service*, Channing Tatum, Neil Patrick Harris, Scarlett Johannsen, and plenty of others in this one minute video alone.

** Three of the most anti-Trump critics of the bunch, as well as the USPS, which celebrities and Democrats are currently tripping over themselves to defend.

As far as celebrities go, Greenlight/Gates owns the rights to their image/likeness (photos, illustrations, silhouettes, distinctive gestures), name (written or spoken), quotes or speeches, distinctive phrases, and objects directly associated with them (e.g.: Prince's guitar).

After the sale of Corbis, the Branded Entertainment Network's business holdings included its artificial intelligence brand integration services,

Splash News, a celebrity photo agency, which the group later sold off, and

Greenlight, a business that provides licensing for images, music, video, and personality rights.

They have offices operating out of Los Angeles, New York, London, Provo, and Berlin.

Splash News Promo Video From the Gates Era


"This development means more than getting your brand into TV shows and feature films. It means looking into a variety of content on multiple platforms including influencer content on digital platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch.tv"

- From The Definitive Guide to Brand Integration distributed by BEN

A Look Into the Gates Advertising Sphere of Influence I wonder what happens if someone steps out of line?

With streaming content getting more and more popular, Gates knew he needed to get in on it at the advent of the new wave of advertising. In 2018, BEN would do over $1.2 Billion in brand integrations. Projections for 2020 are even higher. The company partnered with NBCUniversal to promote Target during a single episode of Superstore, and the results were huge.

"In fact, they've proven more effective than a traditional TV spot," said Target's executive vice president Rick Gomez.

Bill Gates had a hand in the rise in General Motors sales after Deadpool, Buick sales after Big Little Lies, Tecate and Jose Cuervo sales after Narcos, and thousands of other examples just like it.

Yes, even the "alternative" superhero Deadpool is in the Bill Gates circle of advertising shit.

No one is immune. Not even the dead.

Gates owns Marlon Brando, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Pressley, Steve McQueen, Charlie Chaplin, Muhammad Ali, Thomas Edison, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, The Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, and Sophia Loren.

- source

A mixture of icons, living and dead, being used to sell stuff.

Is there anything more grotesque than Bill Gates using Albert Einstein's life rights to promote Salesforce and sell McDonald's, Disney products, and Einstein Bros. Bagels?

A big assortment of videos, if you're interested.

Manufacturing "Organic" Influencer Marketing

Just a few years ago, social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch.tv were places where anyone could "make it" if they made the effort. Now, even the personalities that seem the most genuine were likely cultivated to seem that way. For example in early 2019, Electronic Arts joined the Bill Gates Circle of Shit to launch their new game Apex Legends through influencer marketing alone. It was the #1 trending spot on Twitch and had 60 million views and 25 million downloads in the first week.

YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are platforms Gates is focused on the most.

He's also got a hand in TikTok:

As Well As:

Tesco, Levis, FunkoPop, Coke Lime, Jet Blue, Pride London, McDonald's, British Airways, Salesforce, GAP, Duracell, Sean John, Telegraph, AT&T, LG, AirBNB, Hallmark, Hyundai, Pampers, Jaguar, Jeep, Omega, L'Oreal, Dior, Orkin, BMW, Mazda, Dodge, Coldwell Banker, Chevy, Lipton, Nike, Volkswagen, Chrysler, and Kellogg's. source

David Dobrik

Popular YouTuber David Dobrik partnered with EA to promote a new Need for Speed: Heat app and to promote downloads. To do this, he made a video titled Surprising Best Friend With a Lamborghini!!

Tone Deaf Instagram Influencers:

During fall 2019, a group of popular Instagram influencers took part in a sponsored ad campaign for Saudi Arabia and received a lot of backlash. Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of Branded Entertainment Network, had this to say:

“A lot of creators I know aren’t political. They’re all about having fun and adventure and experiencing new things,” Mr. Butler said. “They’re not thinking about politics, they’re thinking about the lifestyle.”

I don't believe this campaign was organized by BEN, but that's a pretty dumb response.


Even Greenlight's advertising their "organic" content is insincere and fake. In a partnership with Reddit to do an "ask me anything" session with Bill Gates, they allege that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wanted to use the song "Be Our Friend." Thanks to the company that Gates owns (roll eyes) "our clearance team was able to negotiate the rights, and the video appeared on reddit.com, gatesnotes.com, and the Gates Foundation's YouTube channel."

Reminder that in a recent AMA, Bill gates said he would issue digital certificates to verify who is or isn't ill.

Bill Gates Advertises Pharmceutical Companies & Foundation Initiatives


Gates is partnered with Lyndra Therapeutics (associated with Allergan) to develop a once-monthly contraceptive pill. Allergan, after FDA investigation, recalled their BIOCELL breast implants last year in July citing concerns of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

The Gates Foundation Trust is also invested in Allergan.


Vodaphone is part of the GSMA, which is a mouthpiece for the United Nation's ridiculous Sustainable Development Goals initiative.

They have claimed to want to help those most in need, but GSMA has spent a significant amount of time propping up microtransaction systems in rural Africa that also require cashless transactions.

Ultimately, these are services that the Gates Foundation Trust is invested in and will eventually profit off of.


"Because nothing could honor the memory of the deceased Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay quite like an ad for Hepatitis-C medication."

- Bill Gates, probably

"Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay achieved worldwide and lasting

fame when they became the first climbers to ever reach the summit of

Mt. Everest. Gilead Sciences hopes to achieve the same sort of renown with the invention and release of their revolutionary new Hepatitis-C medication. Pairing up Gilead with Hillary & Norgay was a wonderful way to demonstrate this historic achievement. Greenlight facilitated all clearances for the campaign." - The Actual Ad Campaign

Last, but certainly not least, Gates has an advertising campaign for Gilead that compared climbing Mount Everest to treating Hepatitis-C. Moreover, Gilead is the drug company that manufactures Remdesivir, the HIV medication that costs $4,460 per 10-day course and is being touted by Dr. Anthony Fauci as the "standard of care" for Kung Flu. Regardless of the fact that it seems to only shorten the duration of the illness by a couple of days and seemingly doesn't affect mortality at all.

What are the odds? I'm sure it's just a coincidence... I'm just a "conspiracy theorist" after all.

In Summary:

  • Bill Gates owned the Tiananmen Square Massacre photos, sold them to China.

  • Bill Gates owns a product placement/subliminal advertising company.

  • Bill Gates plays middle man for companies to advertise their products and for celebrities and influencers to get sponsored deals.

  • Bill Gates uses his product placement company to represent pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies his foundation's trust is invested in.

  • Bill Gates is a bitch.

Until Next Time,


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