5 Worst Examples of Product Placement in Movies
Today we are in an age where product placements are a common theme in feature films. It is no longer frowned upon. Brands get millions of eyeballs and films get millions of dollars before they even hit the theaters. Everybody wins. Except for the audience.
While filmmakers try to justify product placements, you know – how they create a realistic look and whatnot - they kind of have an opposite effect on the audience. Yes, they do. If not done in a subtle manner, they usually disturb the plot and break the spell that we as an audience often chase.
So, today, we are covering the 5 worst product placements ever in films. Without further ado, let's dive in.
1. Wings (1927)
It wasn't until the 1980s and 1990s, that product placement became a prevalent marketing strategy in the film industry. However, its origins can be traced back to earlier examples, like ‘Wings.’
Yes, believe it or not, the 1927 silent film "Wings" was the pioneer in featuring a ridiculous product placement. And guess what product took the spotlight in a not-so-subtle way? Hershey chocolate bars! Imagine World War I fighter pilots satisfying their appetites with a Hershey chocolate bar or two.
This silent melodrama revolves around two friends enlisting in the Great War and falling in love with the same woman. The film grew immensely popular upon release and Hershey did not shy away from seizing this opportunity!
2. Mac And Me (1988)
The '80s classic film, Mac and Me, stands out as one of the most shamelessly corporate films ever made. I mean, it has product placements in abundance – no surprise there, given its purpose. Remember the extended dance sequence in McDonald's? What was that for?
Well, McDonald's did fund the film. And you can not blame them for trying to cash in on the fading ‘E.T.’ mania. But at least they could be subtle.
There were barely any changes made to the original story and they just shoved their own products on top of that. The film was already lacking in quality and the aforementioned dance sequence further derailed its narrative, serving solely as a blatant advertisement for the restaurant, with little subtlety.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
Few films can rival the cool product placement in the James Bond films. If anyone wishes to exude class and sophistication akin to the spy in real life, they simply gotta have all the associated stuff. But the catch is – regular fellas like us can barely afford that kind of luxury. All those tailored suits, high-end gadgets, luxury sports cars, or other extravagant indulgences!
Despite the Bond series' long history of explicit advertising, Casino Royale took it to new heights, which felt rather irritating due to its emotionally engaging and realistic tone. Throughout the film, a plethora of products vied for attention, ranging from Sony laptops and mobile phones to Blu-ray disks. However, one particular moment sticks out.
During a conversation between Bond and Vesper, she inquires about 007’s watch. He responds with suave confidence, mentioning "Omega" rather than the more commonplace "Casio." This casual reference to a luxury brand seems, well, kinda out of touch.
4. World War Z (2013)
Product placement, an inevitable compromise within the for-profit Hollywood only becomes problematic when it takes the attention away from the narrative. Take the movie ‘World War Z,’ for example. A particular scene was almost like a jarringly blatant and unapologetic Pepsi commercial.
Remember when Brad Pitt's character interrupts the intense finale to have a Pepsi? It was an annoying disruption. Completely deviating from the narrative, this last-minute advertisement feels like a rude imposition on the viewers. Not only does it unnecessarily extend the film's duration, but it also feels like an obligatory commercial that the audience must endure before discovering the characters' ultimate fate.
5. Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)
Big, action-packed movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction are perfect opportunities for filmmakers to place advertising amidst the backdrop of things being wrecked. However, not everyone is pleased with this kind of intrusion. For example, some movie fans expressed disappointment on the Internet with the scene about a Bud Light truck being destroyed and Mark Wahlberg doing a move by chugging a bottle.
Simply showing the truck being wrecked would have been enough, but deliberately showing a character consuming the product seemed forced. Well, it was too blatant to overlook. And the fact that this moment was intended for humor? It kinda gave the impression that the film was mocking the audience's valuable time.
And fellas, that is a wrap. Hope you enjoyed this piece as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. We have got more awesome content like this on the way. Until next time, stay tuned!