10 Painfully Obvious Examples of Product Placement in Movies
Much like that time our step-brother brought up Cutco knives at Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes we get the feeling movies are trying to sell us stuff. Other times, we know movies are trying to sell us stuff, and it is so very, very awkward.
Take ‘The Internship,’ for example, which is basically a giant advertisement for Google. (Because Google is definitely a company that needs more brand recognition.) But they aren’t the first company to awkwardly force their product into a movie. Here are some of the worst product placement offenders in movie history.
‘127 Hours,’ Capital One
You would think that a movie that mostly features one protagonist trapped in a canyon doesn’t exactly offer a ton of opportunities for product placement. But you’d be wrong! Because James Franco’s unfortunate hiker empties his belongings, which conveniently includes a Capital One card. What’s in your wallet … when your arm gets crushed by a boulder?
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ Domino’s Pizza
We get that they are teenage mutant ninja turtles, but Domino’s? Really? Any New Yorker can testify that if you really love pizza, the only time you order Domino’s is if you want to eat a whole pizza by yourself while crying and watching ‘Bones’ on Netflix. Since ‘Bones’ and Netflix didn’t exist back in 1990, the only reason the Turtles scarf Domino’s is because the movie studio cashed a big check.
‘You’ve Got Mail,’ AOL and Starbucks
Back in the ’90s, e-mail was a novelty, so people awaited AOL’s signature catchphrase like it was Santa on Christmas morn. Pretty much the entire premise of this Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle revolves around AOL, so we almost excuse the constant presence of the company’s logo. But there’s no reason for Tom Hanks to basically do a commercial for Starbucks in the clip above. Even though his character is supposed to be poking fun at the ubiquitous chain, the way the camera lovingly grazes over the bubbling lattes and mermaid logo lets you know exactly who’s footing the bill on this movie set.
‘The Thomas Crown Affair,’ Pepsi One
How thirsty do you have to be to drink a can of soda this quickly? We feel about as disgusted as Frankie Faison looks watching this. Also, of course it’s a diet soda. Nothing says “working woman” in a movie than a scene where the tough-as-nails-but-secretly-sensitive female protagonist guzzles a diet cola to get through her workday.
‘The Wizard,’ Nintendo
This movie was essentially a feature-length advertisement for Nintendo. Never mind the fact that it’s all a build-up to the big competition event where impressionable young viewers were introduced to ‘Super Mario Bros. 3.’ There is literally a scene where Beau Bridges and Christian Slater — as the father and son looking for runaways Fred Savage, Jenny Lewis and Luke Edwards — get distracted by the Nintendo ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ game. And, of course, there’s the infamous scene where a young hotshot gamer extols the virtues of a popular Nintendo accessory by saying, “I love the Power Glove — it’s so bad.”
‘Mac and Me,’ Coca Cola and McDonald’s
The aliens in this 1988 ‘E.T.’ knock-off actually subsist off of Coke and Skittles. But most infamously, there is also a completely random song-and-dance routine in a McDonald’s starring Ronald McDonald.
‘Little Nicky,’ Popeye’s Chicken
Oddly enough, “Popeye’s Chicken is the shiznit” never became the fast food chain’s official catchphrase. Perhaps they didn’t want to be forever associated with one of Adam Sandler’s least popular movies.
‘E.T.,’ Reese’s Pieces
Mars thought E.T. was too ugly to be associated with M&M’s, so all the delicious marketing glory went to Reese’s Pieces, which actually are quite delicious and, in our opinion, underrated. Man, we could really go for some Reese’s Pieces right now. Argh! You tricked us again, ‘E.T.’!
All of the James Bonds, All of the Things
‘Skyfall’ reportedly set the record for Bond movie product integration, with a whopping $45 million contributed by companies that lined up to have Daniel Craig kill thugs within the vicinity of their wares. But every Bond movie is basically a two-hour ad for Aston Martins, vodka and whatever watch company puts up the most money to be 007’s latest gadget.
‘I, Robot,’ Converse
Something makes us think this isn’t what Isaac Asimov had in mind when he dreamt up the future of ‘I, Robot.’