Product Placement in Movies: 24 Examples of Obvious and Ridiculous Marketing Tactics!
Curious to see how product placement in movies can be ridiculous at times? Read below:
Everyone advertises mostly everywhere these days, and whether you’re watching an ad or gawking upon one of those huge billboards, you are always being bombarded by brands and their products or services.
On the other hand, you won’t get away from those brands even if you avoid ads at all costs, since you’ll be an audience to advertising whether you want it or not, as movies, series and all sorts of media have product placement in them.
To write this extensive article, I researched so much that I am now hugely surprised at how common product placement in movies is, and even blatant at some points, and throughout this “Product Placement in Movies” post we’ll go over some fine examples of it.
Little Nicky: Popeye’s Chicken!
The main character of Little Nicky is being introduced to Popeye’s Chicken for the first time in this movie, and it is “awesome!”
Nothing too blatant or eye popping here, but as Adam Sandler loves product placement in movies, everything gets obvious and pretty blatant when this product is used to defeat the demon army, and even the Demon endorses it.
This is something pretty powerful for any brand, imagine it if it was yours – almost makes the movie feel like a big advert.
The Wizard: A Nintendo Ad?
Back in the 1980s, Nintendo was really striving to get media attention, and it was trying to gather all the advertisement space and publicity it could get to try to get a boost in order to better face its rivals.
The Wizard is a movie, or is it a blatant Nintendo ad?
Well, the plot is pretty simple, and if you watch the whole thing with the product placement in movies subject in mind it gets painfully obvious that this is a poor excuse to advertise Nintendo products, such as The Power Glove.
Foodfight: A Flop With Mascots!
If you haven’t watched this movie, then don’t think about it too much since you probably dodged the bullet.
If you look at the trailers or posters, you’ll see mascots that will make you feel like you’re going to watch one of those cool animated movies like Toy Story, but the thing is the mascots aren’t used in that way.
They are simple background characters that do little and don’t get involved in the story, but are always being prominently displayed as they are mascots to real companies, a clear example of product placement in movies.
This was a cheap shot at promotion, and in the end everyone noticed that as the film flopped.
The Island: Calvin Klein!
Adam Sandler really loves his product placement, as we argued before, but there is a director who is really on his tail – Michael Bay.
He has around thirty different product placements in his “The Island” movie, with Xbox Logos and Calvin Klein ads.
A movie that was well received by critics showing that even good movies can score huge numbers of ad revenue – well, especially good movies if we’re honest.
Transformers: Michael Bay Does It Again!
So, if you are aware of how things work then you know that one of the main objectives of the Transformers series is to resurrect the brand and sell toys as well as collect royalties for merchandising.
Michael Bay didn’t think this was enough, as he stroke a deal with more and more companies. Now, Transformers is a movie series that has more than 50 different product placements, like GM cars, Xbox 360 (the transforming Xbox), Mountain Dew and its vending machine, Nokia and much more!
There have been cases of people drinking a shot of whiskey every time they saw a product placement in the movies, and they ended up quite badly.
Mac And Me: McDonald’s Shot at Product Placement Movies!
This movie is one we can compare to The Wizard, but this time for McDonald’s.
This movie also felt like a huge Ad, and to give you a clue there’s even a long dance scene on one of the many McDonald’s restaurants, and even Ronald McDonald partakes in the action on this McDonald’s birthday party.
Many critics pointed out that Coca-Cola and McDonald’s were blatantly making a huge TV commercial, and when I saw the dancing scene you can be sure I cringed.
You’ve Got Mail: Trademarked Slogan!
If you know the sentence, then you probably know that this was AOL’s slogan and that it was trademarked.
Well, if you think the movie title which is the company’s slogan isn’t enough, how about the fact that the company’s jingle plays over and over again?
“You’ve Got Mail” was a movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks with a huge product placement component.
Code Geass: Pizza Hut is Forever!
This Anime movie shows that product placement in movies transcends dimensions, as the characters blow up the British Empire with their mechs but take regular breaks to eat Pizza – and guess what is the logo that is displayed conveniently in all of these moments? Yeap, Pizza Hut.
One of the main characters for the story has the Pizza Hut mascot Cheese-Kun as its most dear item, and you cannot think about this anime without one of its product placement moments coming into mind.
I, Robot: You, All-Stars!
Will Smith stars in this movie about the future, and though everything is futuristic, the pair of Converse All-Stars the hero wears are a classic, or as Will Smith’s character puts it “beauty”.
Even other characters comment on the shoes, confirming the movie’s attempts to sell them.
Days of Our Lives: The Origin of Soap Operas!
Ok, so this entry isn’t a movie, but I had to mention it because it really illustrates how Soap Operas began.
Product placement companies weren’t always around, but this is a concept that isn’t new. In fact, soap manufacturers were the ones financially supporting this genre, and that is why Soap Operas got their name.
Well, “Days of Our Lives” is a huge, blatant and obvious example of this advertising practice, as obvious and hilarious situations come up over and over again, showing that if they keep on doing it, it’s because it works.
Evolution: Heads & Shoulders Anyone?
If a movie has its main characters using a brand to defeat evil, then it most certainly is proof enough that a deal with such brand was successful.
In Evolution, the cast uses the product to defeat the nasty aliens, and they even talk about how the shampoo brand helps keep their hair clean of flake and shiny as a mirror.
At the end, the main characters all star in a shampoo commercial, guess the brand?
E.T.: No Stranger to Marketing!
This movie was one of the most iconic pieces of cinematic history, and if you remember the film correctly, then you’ll know that the extraterrestrial loved to eat Reese’s Pieces.
Now, let us be clear in this one, the director didn’t get paid for this move, but the truth is that Hershey’s sales skyrocketed.
Now for the marketing twist: Steven Spielberg was about to use M&M’s, but Mars thought the movie would flop so it refused. Bad move in retrospect, but it doesn’t seem this product placement in movies stunt helped this brand in the long run.
The Internship: Free Perks?
Allegedly, Google didn’t make money out of this movie, though some people argue that the film is a couple hours worth of commercials for the brand.
What is proven is that Google supported the filmmakers and even the CEO Sergey Brin appears, and the audience felt like it was wronged into watching an institutional ad – the movie didn’t do well.
Man Of Steel: Super Products!
We’re not mentioning a product in particular, but that would be a drag since the film banked over 160 million dollars even before being released.
The Man of Steel achieved this by featuring hundreds of products in the movie, and while some situations and references are subtle, some are blatantly obvious.
Hawaii Five-O: Last Series, I Promise!
I know, it’s another series, but this one is so, so bad it hurts just watching.
When you think about these actors doing this piece you even cringe – they surely feel a bit dirty doing it for sure as if you clipped this scene and watched it on its own… it’s an ad!
And not only a simple commercial but a pretty lame one at that!
Back To The Future II: Nike, Pepsi, Mattel and More Pizza Hut!
You knew this movie was going to be on this list as it really escalated its product placement practices already present on the first one.
The self-laced Nikes which became a reality this year and the Mattel hoverboard were the most iconic items of the franchise, but you also have Pizza Hut and Pepsi references on there.
It’s the second time Pizza Hut is referenced in this article, I feel like I should get a good amount of money as well.
James Bond: Old School Ads!
James Bond is a secret agent that lives a flamboyant lifestyle like no other – others tend to be, well, secretive.
There are lots of brands accompanying the ever face changing James Bond, and those classics are the iconic Aston Martins, the Walther PPK, the Omega and Rolex brands, and more!
There is a huge load of articles written on product placement in movies focusing on the 007 series, which is enough to say that this movie series really does it right.
Jack And Jill: Adam Sandler Again!
Adam Sandler actually plays an advertising executive in this movie, and the plot is pretty simple: Get Al Pacino to shoot a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial.
Well, the actor eventually agrees to shoot that commercial, and certainly enough it plays by the end of the movie.
There are many other brands featured in the film too, and it shows the Adam Sandler loves this practice – he even got Pacino to rap and break dance… so it’s cool?
Wayne’s World: Pizza Hut, Doritos and More!
Wayne’s World, a movie with a scene that simultaneously promotes Doritos, Reebok, Nuprin, Pepsi and… Pizza Hut again – where’s my money?
In this scene, the movie makes fun of product placements, which was a nice twist.
Definitely the most enjoyable and less forced product placement scene I ever watched when in the movies.
Skyfall: Grab a Heineken!
We return to James Bond, this time for his movie Skyfall, as it is one that really deserves to be mentioned.
Heineken paid 45 million dollars for product placement in Skyfall, and James Bond didn’t ask for his signature martini this time, grabbing a bottle of Heineken bottle instead.
The Italian Job: Launch the BMW Mini Cooper:
The renowned movie critic Stephanie Zacharek states that the star of the film wasn’t its actors, but its car.
Indeed, the Italian Job made an iconic scene of three differently colored Mini Coopers epic, and as the old film was made using Mini Coopers, BMW contacted the filmmakers for the 2003 version asking them if they could use their new BMW Mini Cooper.
The deal went through and BMW offered 30 cars for the shooting, enjoying a 22% increase in sales over the year following the movie launch. A fine example of how product placement in movies works.
Risky Business: Stylish Ray-Ban!
Ray-Ban has a legendary reputation by now, but the manufacturers were actually thinking about canceling their product lines slowly, to fade out.
The movie Risky Business brought them a lot of revenue, as the brand attributes over 360 thousand of Wayfarer pairs sales thanks to the movie.
The firm liked the results so much that they approached Top Gun to score a deal for Tom Cruise to wear Ray-Ban Aviator glasses, increasing the model sales by 40%.
White House Down: Nike Jordan’s
Air Jordan’s were pretty popular, and if you think about they appeared in a lot of movies and series, being one of the most product-placed items of all times.
Well, in White House Down, the President fights a terrorist, and this bad guy grabs his feet, making the President scream at him to drop his Jordan’s!
Superman: Product Placement Movies in 1980!
If you take Superman on the 80s, you’ll see that he has some rules about marketing, as product placement is much more subtle than if you look at his “Man of Steel” counterpart.
You can spot a KFC box on a car’s dashboard and other products “in disguise”, but Man of Steel topped all of that with its huge revenue generation through this type of marketing.
So much so that the 80s version can almost be considered the “ad-free” version, even if it already employed such practices.
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