Personally I always find it amazing that many people fail to realise that movies both big and small take large sums of money from companies to place products throughout the feature. This means when you head to the cinema to watch the latest summer blockbuster you are unknowingly been bombarded with all kinds of advertisements subliminally urging you to remember products without even knowing it.
Here are some of the most shameless product placements in movies. Feel free to add your own examples.
The producers of Superman 2 were paid a cool $25,000 by cigarette company, Marlboro. The payment was for the producers to include a Marlboro truck slap bang in the middle of the movies final fight scene. Not only does a Marlboro truck appear right in the middle of all the action Superman himself is thrown into large truck with a huge Marlboro logo plastered all over it. The camera lingers on the logo as Superman climbs out from the mangled wreck.
As you can imagine there are many moral implications of using a children’s superhero to promote cigarettes. When the movie was released there were plenty of parents who complained.
Buy Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition) here.
Fight Club is a movie about guys fighting. It is about ripping into and exposing corporations for all of their evil doings. Summed up the movie is all very anti-establishment so it is probably surprising to learn that there were plenty companies happy to pay huge sums of money for a little product placement.
Ed Norton’s apartment is filled with products from IKEA and in one scene it even turns into an IKEA catalogue. In other scenes characters wreck a Starbucks, break into an Apple store and smash up a Volkswagen car. I suppose if you are going to go out of your way to insult and offend huge companies you may as well let them pay you for the privilege.
Fight Club is not the only movie out there which managed to offend a company which it was financially involved with. Throughout the movie we hear Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) complain that he is getting no love from Reebok as they will not offer him any endorsement deals. According to sources from Reebok executives gave good money on the understanding that the film would end with Reebok offering Rod Tidwell his endorsement deal with the tag line “Rod Tidwell, We ignored him for years. We were wrong. We’re sorry.”
Unfortunately for Reebok this scene never made it into the final cut of the movie. The end result is Reebok been left to look like the cold hearted conglomerate that never recognises the heartfelt passion and talent of Rod Tidwell. Reebok even sued TriStar Pictures due to the misunderstanding. Reebok claimed they were promised that they would be portrayed in a positive light.
Buy Jerry Maguire (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray] here.
For those of you who don’t know the movie Demolition man takes a modern day Sylvester Stallone and cryogenically freezes him until the year 2032. You would expect him to wake up to a highly advanced society with highly advanced foods but instead he finds out that the food of the future is provided by Taco Bell. Apparently Taco Bell is the only restaurant in existence in the future due to what will become known as the franchise wars. Talk about obvious product placement.
Buy Demolition Man here.
Back to the Future
Way back in 1985 the cola wars were in full swing and Pepsi was actually wining that war. Keen to capitalise on their runaway success Pepsi featured heavy throughout the Back to the Future movies. In the first movie Marty McFly walks into the 1955 café and orders a ‘Pepsi Free’ which is their diet drink. During the second movie Marty is told by Doc Brown to go into the Café 80’s and order a Pepsi. Doc Brown then gives him a $50 bill to pay for the soft drink.
There are hundreds of further product placements throughout the movies including the Nike shoes Marty wears in all three movies, Mattel as the company who manufacture the hoverboard or even the DeLorean car as the time machine.
The first of the Spiderman movies which were a huge hit for Sony included a barrage of continently placed product placements. The most obvious been the long close up shot of the Dr Pepper can as Peter Parker goes about testing out his web slinging abilities in his bedroom.
Dr Pepper is just the tip of the iceberg with Carlsberg trucks appearing through the movie not to mention a huge number of billboards on display which feature companies like Samsung and Budweiser. Even Sony signed singer Macy Gray turns up at one point during a Green Goblin attack so she can sell a couple of extra albums.
Buy Spider-Man here.
When it comes to product placement in movies Michael Bay has no limits as to how low he will go. Pretty much all of his films are littered with constant advertisements been shoved in your face and Transformers is probably one of his most shameless efforts.
Not only do the transformers themselves serve the purpose of promoting the transformers toys that kids play with they also promote lovely shiny cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro that Bumblebee transforms into.
You probably also noticed that Shia Labeouf spends a huge amount of his time selling things on EBay (yes EBay advertises in movies) and the more observant of you probably noticed an Xbox 360 transforming into a robot at one point.
Buy Transformers here.
The Invention of Lying
The most obvious of product placements through this Ricky Gervais movie has to be when he reads his ten commandments which are wrote on the back of two Pizza Hut boxes. There are also various other lengthy sequences during the movie where products feature heavily. Products such as Coca-Cola and Budweiser.
Despite what appears to be obvious product placement throughout the entire movie the co-director Mathew Robinson denied that producers had been involved with any product placement deals. He claimed that the products featured so the film had a sense of reality and realism. This is pretty hard to believe since the constant bombardment of products becomes more memorable than the movie itself.
Buy The Invention of Lying [Blu-ray] here.
Castaway was that movie starring Tom Hanks where he gets himself stranded on a desert island for a few years. It may well be hard to find a way to conveniently promote products on a desert island but Castaway manages to do just that.
Firstly the character of Tom Hanks is an employee of FedEx and the company is mentioned throughout the movie along with their logo been clearly visible on packages that are washed ashore.
In order for Tom Hanks to have a dialog during the movie the screenwriter gave his character volleyball with a face drawn on it. Of course the volleyball has the Wilson brand on it and since the ball is a character in the movie the ‘Wilson’ brand features heavily during the movie.
Buy Cast Away (Two-Disc Special Edition) here.