Product placement is a fact of life in the big movie business. Some do a much better job of it than others. But even still, some are so ham-fistedly clumsy about it, that it’s sickening. Here’s a list of some of the worst examples of product placement in a movie.
10. Iron Man – Yeah, I know ‘Wow, that movie just came out, how did it make this list?’ Well in one scene, main character Tony Stark, arrives back in the United States after being held by terrorists in a desert for months. The first thing he wants when he comes home? A good American burger. Yeah! U-S-A, U-S-A! But wait, in the next scene we see him ‘satisfying’ his craving with his hand in a big bag of ‘Burger King’. Horrible. What person on earth would prefer something from BK over a genuine restaurant/diner grilled burger?
9. Sideways – This movie about a couple of douchey wine lovers going on a vacation in California’s wine country got plenty of recognition in the Oscar department with a few choice nominations. But the movie served as a big ad platform by blasting wines like Merlot in favor of expensive Blackstone Pinot Noir varieties. Stats showed that sales of pinot noir, a mostly forgotten type, skyrocketed up by 22% in the year following the movie’s release. Good business for those sponsors, but hatin’ on wines is just lame.
8. Spider-Man – Peter Parker conveniently learns his Spidey powers by slinging web at a nice cold can of Dr. Pepper. Then later on in hot pursuit of some thugs, he jumps on a pristinely framed Carlsberg logo with a truck attached to it.
7. The Coca-Cola Kid – This movie from 1985 can’t get it’s face out of Coca-Cola’s crotch for two seconds. The whole plot of the movie is about a Coke executive going to Australia to see why Coke isn’t selling well in this one remote town. Even the movie poster is full of goofy coke puns and product placement. Those crazy 80s.
6. Forrest Gump – Not only did Forrest drink tons of Dr. Pepper in this movie, but he also invested in a ‘fruit company’ that turned out to be Apple Computers. He also wore a pair of Nike sneakers that got framed up nicely during all those long running scenes and when he pulled them out of the box. But oddly enough, the reason this makes the list is for inventing a product to place. The shrimping company that Forrest and Bubba start is a big success in the movie. Much like the real life Bubba Gump Shrimp Company with restaurants in the big tourist areas of Times Square, New York and Tokyo, Japan.
5. Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle – Here’s another movie I actually like. Maybe it shouldn’t even be on this list, because it was such a ballsy move for White Castle to go along with this. But they did, and the trek of two stoners looking to rid the munchies defines 90% of White Castle’s customer base. Who else would eat a ‘Crave Case’ of 30 onion fried burgers? But still, this company and its logo are referenced too many times to even count as product placement. Pretty egregious as far as lack of subtlety standards go.
4. Friday Night Lights – Great movie, but it acts like a time-warp. One of the big factors in the draw for this movie is its intense realism and attention to detail in setting the scene of a small town obsessed with high school football. The author of the book it’s based on, Buzz Bissinger (who is now famous for hating the very nature of blogs on last week’s Costas Now), followed the true life story of a Texas high school football team in 1988. But for some reason in the film, many of the players are seen wearing Under Armour (UA) jerseys and accessories on the field. UA wasn’t even founded in its infancy until 1996, and only now in 2008 is it getting to the point where it sponsors high school teams.
3. Castaway - You’ve got to be kidding me with this one. The whole movie is a giant FedEx advertisement. Jeez, I hope they financed all production costs on this one because it comes out looking like a long and oftentimes boring commercial. Tom Hanks’ character works for FedEx and crashes on an island while flying on a FedEx plane. That’s not even a good placement! Saying your company’s planes crash? Tom Hanks, a trusted employee for the company, also works himself to death for his company before landing on the island. Not a good representation of a company I’d want to work for.
2. The Island - I think the Brits over at theshiznit, described this one the best:
“The Island is a serial offender; just when you think Michael Bay canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cram any more adverts down your throat, he shoves a Puma trainer up your arse and takes a swig of Michelob beer. Numerous Microsoft logos are littered around the future cityscape (incuding, bizarrely, an Xbox-related ad that was already out-of-date when the movie opened), plus lingering shots of Nokia phones, Aquafina water bottles, Macintosh trucks and Ben & JerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ice cream.”
1. I, Robot – I think this is one everyone can agree on. In one of the opening scenes alone, this movie acts as a giant billboard for over a dozen brands. Between the JVC stereo he listens to, the specialized Audi car he drives, the FedEx packages he uses (they’re really still using FedEx in the future? That doesn’t even make sense), it’s all painful to watch. The worst has to be the vintage 2004 Converse sneakers he insists on buying, talking about, lacing up and wearing throughout the whole movie. Yeah Converse are cool in that ‘not trying to be cool’ way, but 2004 isn’t even vintage Converse. If they wanted to go with cool vintage Chucks, they should have went with some Sandlot-era pair.
With product placement being so rampant and profitable in the movie industry today, it’s difficult to keep track of it all. Let us know in the comments section which other horrible examples we forgot.
CNBC: Movies and Product Placement: A Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?, May 7, 2008
Brandchannel: Product Placement Awards
The Shiznit: 10 Worst Product Placements