Director: Mao's Omega watch not product placement

By MIN LEE | June 20, 2011 | 11:43 AM EDT

HONG KONG (AP) — The propaganda film "Beginning of the Great Revival" naturally is a prime advertising opportunity: It's a star-studded film that's overtaken movie screens in China, a coveted market with 1.3 billion people.

In one scene, the actor playing Mao Zedong accepts a gold Omega pocket watch from his girlfriend. The camera zooms in, making the Swiss luxury brand name visible to viewers.

It appears to be a glaring example of product placement, but the movie's director and star both denied that Monday evening. Omega's press office has not responded to e-mails seeking comment.

Co-director Han Sanping told The Associated Press the watch was a prop design detail.