Product placement is simply a cold reality of the movie business. Many artists and film buffs can find themselves forgetting that Hollywood is a business first and foremost. Behind all our favorite blockbusters, and even many loved smaller films, are big corporations wheeling and dealing to make sure money goes in the right places to keep the big movie machine steaming ahead.
Product placements have always been an easy way to bring in extra cash flow. It’s the business of a company offering money for a movie to throw in a product in a scene or two, either in the background or prominently displayed (usually for much more money).
Many have criticized the overuse of product placement as of late, claiming it can detract from the film and story. However, as Hollywood is searching for more and more ways to farm out movie budgets, product placement has turned out to be the one of the easiest forms of extra cash. It’s not entirely their fault. After all, we are bombarded with advertisements and name brand products in everyday life, so why shouldn’t movies reflect that.
Some are obvious about their associations to product placement like the James Bond series while other filmmakers have used the gimmick to their own advantage to create false products and induce a sort of fictional universe over the audience like Quentin Tarantino (Big Kahuna burgers, Big Apple Cigarettes, etc.) and Kevin Smith (Mooby’s, anyone?).
Here is a look at 10 moments of product placement you may have missed.
10. James Bond – Vaio
No movie franchise is more of a sucker for product placement than the James Bond franchise. The man of mystery and international espionage always has time to show off his style and gadgets, which is perfect for any companies out there looking to promote their products.
No James Bond has been more supplied to the T with promotional gadgets and clothes than Daniel Craig‘s. The picture above not only includes a not so subtle promotion for Vaio laptops, but also for the stylish cardigan he’s wearing. Who doesn’t want to looking like James Bond while surfing the web on a Vaio laptop.
9. Transformers And…Bud Light!
It comes as no surprise that the alcoholic beverage placed in Transformers: Age of Extinction would be Bug Light Platinum. Michael Bay is no stranger to product placement in his films. In fact, he’s known as one of the filmmakers more friendly to the easy cash money.
He’s never displayed that friendliness more than in the Transformers films. In Age of Extinction, Bud Light Platinum must have been one of his many financial supporters because it popped up in the movie more than once.
The more publicized instance was one ridiculous moment where Mark Wahlberg randomly swigs a fallen bottle in front of someone for no real conceivable reason. It’s one of the best product placement moments there is. However, there are plenty more. Bay made sure that in between his signature explosion shots he added close ups of Bud Light Platinum, the product of his very friendly Bud pals.
8. Amazing Spider Man – It’s a Sony World
Spiderman is now joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War. However, this is not the first time Spiderman has inhabited a cinematic universe. The first instance was in The Amazing Spider Man movies.
Made by Sony, the Marc Webb directed Spider Man films inhabited what will hence forth be known as the Sony Cinematic Universe. It’s a strange reality where the only distributor of any sort of technology is Sony.
It should come as no surprise that Sony wants to cross promote and pollinate their films with Sony products, but in The Amazing Spider Man films they may have taken the notion a little too far. Every computer was Sony. Even everything in Peter Parker’s room was Sony related from the movie poster to the camera to the phone to well, everything.
7. James Bond – Heineken, Please Do Not Shake or Stir
Heineken has gotten the ultimate promotional spot in the James Bond movies as of late. They are the official beer of the most womanizing, stylish man in the world! Who wouldn’t drink that beer.
When Bond isn’t ordering martinis, he’s drinking beer like he’s just one of the guys. In every scene in Skyfall and Spectre where Bond holds or is even close to a beer, you bet it all on the black that it’s a Heineken.
Taking their promotion a step further, Heineken even crafts there bottles with an image of Bond and the title of whatever movie is out to further entice Bond fans looking for something cold to drink.
6. Superman 2 – Smoke Cigarettes, Kids!
One of the more controversial product placements in movie history was that of Marlboro cigarettes in Superman 2. The PG-rated, Christopher Reeve-starring superhero tale is a strange movie to promote cigarettes in.
But, they do it anyway and quite prominently. Known as one of the more noticeable and shameless product placement movies in film history, there’s a giant Marlboro truck destroyed in the film. The camera makes sure to get every inch of that Marlboro logo though. It’s distracting, obvious and how dare the world force the Man of Steel to sell cigarettes. There’s also reportedly over twenty mentions of the cigarette brand in the film.
5. Man of Steel, Man of Sears…Among Other Things
Speaking of the Man of Steel, when Zack Snyder rebooted the character with his darker 2013 Man of Steel many threw there hands up at some of the more controversial decisions made in the movie. However, one of the aspects to the film that managed to fly under the radar was the intense amount of sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious product placement.
Some claim the film has the most product placements ever. Others claim there’s over $100 million worth of products placements on screen. I don’t know how accurate either of those statements are, however I do know that when Superman first fights Zod’s henchmen, we get to see Sears destroyed, IHop destroyed and plenty more. At least Snyder clobbered most of his product placements.
4. Tony Stark is an Audi Man
Tony Stark is a man of style, a man of taste and, most importantly, a man of wealth. This all makes him the perfect tool for product placement. Audi is a big supporter of the Iron Man films. The cars can be seen prominently displayed in each Iron Man movie.
The various cars have been promoted with Stark’s name and the Iron Man brand, and Marvel has welcomed Audi and Stark’s love for the vehicles with open arms. At least it’s a believable product placement here. Tony Stark likes nice things and Marvel makes sure he gets them.
3. Dark Knight Rises – Even Nolan Has to Pay the Bills
When you’re making a movie at a certain level, product placement is the reality. You need it. You need it for the money, and you need it to arguably give your movie scope and small realistic touches.
Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight Rises was one of the most anticipated comic book movies ever. After throwing everyone a surprise masterpiece with The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers and Nolan wanted to up the ante. That meant upping the budget. And that, in turn, meant product placement.
The most obvious examples are in the scene where Bane first talks to the people of Gotham in the football stadium and we get to see each and every company that gave Nolan a little cash to give his Batman one last go round.
2. World War Z – Pepsi
I’m sure Pepsi would pay millions for a commercial starring Brad Pitt. If it involves zombies then even better.
What they had to settle for was a small shout out in the summer blockbuster World War Z. Brad Pitt was also a producer so he may have even been involved in getting one of the giant soda companies involved.
There’s not just a scene where a Pepsi vending machine is shown, but Brad Pitt even downs one refreshing cola. It probably makes Pepsi executives wince in pain at the scene as they imagine the potential for Brad Pitt being their new spokesperson.
1. Birdman – Oscar-Snubbed Stella
Nobody is above product placement. The reality is that it gets too bad a rap. It’s not entirely strange or off putting to see name brand items on screen. We see it in everyday life, so why not the movies. It may even be a case where the movie simply needs to use a product, and they seek permission. It’s not always a secret backroom handshake some commentators make it out to be.
Birdman, a Best Picture winner, is not a movie you’d think you’d hear as an example of product placement use, but they did show off the beer Stella Artois quite a few times. Hey, everybody needs some money to make some art, even the real artists avoiding blockbusters. At least they chose a beer with a fancy name. Just don’t expect to see much product placement in director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s next movie: the 1800s set revenge drama, The Revenant.