Look, a List: 11 of the Greatest Deliberate Product
Still no review. Instead, I’ve done what most lazy writers do: compile a motherfucking list. Now I really feel like I am a part of the internet. And it didn’t take very long either, just like my new addition to the Guggenheim.
That’s a reference to Seinfeld, by the way.
Audiences these days pretty much expect product placements in big budget Hollywood films. Why not? Corporations are big businesses. Hollywood itself is a business, whoring out to Corporate America. Product placement can be quite blatant to the point where a film just becomes one long feature-length ad. Films like Mac and Me and even Top Gun (it’s been reported that recruitment for US Navy and Air Force went up after its release… America’s film industry, the most powerful in the world, drove up recruitment for America’s military… U-S-A! U-S-A!).
What really gets me is the really blatant product placement. Mac and Me was pretty heinous for it, and it’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. These are the ones that you know were written or filmed a certain way just so they could get the products in. Not only does it make the film more difficult to watch, but it also seems like a really big “fuck you” to its audience. A little authenticity isn’t unwelcome, but too much and it just feels like we’re watching an advertisement, not a movie.
A film about the US Navy that happens to feature lots of US Navy shit, can it be helped? Maybe, maybe not. Or a film where people are watching TV and just happen to feature them eating Old Dutch. Is it blatant? Probably. But did they deliberately write a certain character or scene in a way just to shove it in? I doubt it. Once you’re set up to promote a product, the director really has no choice but to film a certain way, as to maximize exposure of said product. But some films take this a little bit too far, shoehorning products into dialogue and needlessly piling them into scenes for no reason except that you know some corporate dick somewhere demanded it.
So let’s start. Here are some of the worst examples of the most shameless product placements. This list is about films that have nothing to do with anything they’re whoring to the public, but deliberately changed lines in the dialogue or added shit in to purposely showcase a brand. There are a lot of examples, but these are eleven that either really pissed me off or had me completely baffled at its blatancy. Movies I have reviewed (which are only three of them) will not be included on this list.
So here they are, in no particular order (also, I don’t normally embed videos from YouTube, but some of these are better seen to be believed):
1. The Longest Yard (2005) and McDonald’s
I’m so fucking sick of McDonald’s it’s not even funny. Sure, McDonald’s is great. It’s the first thing people think of when they think of the United States. The second is a bunch of fat people. And then it just gets worse after that. It’s a tool to help the States invade overseas. But if I have to see those so-called “golden” arches one more time, I’m going to go on a shooting spree dressed as Ronald McDonald, and have a handwritten letter in my pocket that says “McDonald’s made me do it”, so that when I inevitably get shot to death, there can be no doubt. Hey, those bastards want publicity, they’ll get it.
What does this rant have to do with The Longest Yard? Well, the remake of the Burt Reynolds classic is bad enough, but this stinker gets even worse when you realize Burt Reynolds is co-starring in it. When you think it couldn’t get any lower, it starts shoving products and brands right into your fucking face. The part that gets me is that it isn’t just featured on screen, but that they have to constantly make humor from the product. Guess what? It ain’t fucking funny. The worst example: McDonald’s.
Here’s the typical corporate tactic of deliberate product placement shoved into your mouth for your enjoyment. They fucking wrote in a character just to advertise the Golden Arches. Terry Crews’ character is literally named Cheeseburger Eddy. He has no purpose in this movie but to promote McDonald’s and spew cringe-inducing one-liners about fast food. “You gotta always protect the McNuggets!” he proclaims, after some guy gets hit in the balls. Fuck you, fuck this movie, and fuck everyone.
So far, 1566 out of 1597 voters like this shit. Further proof that popular opinion is bullshit and democracy sucks.
2. Casino Royale (2006) and Rolex/Omega
The James Bond films have a bit of a reputation to uphold when it comes to product placements. I think the producers don’t want you to watch a Bond film as much as they want you to spend the whole film trying to find all of the products they’re whoring, like it’s Where’s Fucking Waldo. Seriously, folks, don’t even bother watching the actual movies, just to try to spot all of the ads they’re running.
But there’s one bit in Casino Royale that really irks me. Because you know they wrote the dialogue in such a way to blatantly shoehorn the products into the conversation. First of all, Bond’s got a pretty cool watch. Omega? Who wouldn’t want to wear one of those? Hell, I’d take a Rolex, too. They nonchalantly flash the watch around for all to see, but it’s never blatant…
Until they decide to throw a bit of dialogue around…
Bond and Vesper are sitting on a train, sizing each other up. They’re trying to read the other like it’s a game of fucking cards. In the end, all you have to know is all of that first-year psychoanalysis psychobabble bullshit means nothing, as long as you’re wearing an Omega. Actually, I think both companies paid to get featured.
Vesper Lind: “Rolex?”
James Bond: “Omega.”
Vesper Lind: “Beautiful.”
It’s almost life-like in its deliberation. It seems to have this natural, yet hollow, spontaneity about it, as if the lines were written upstairs in some corporate boardroom.
Catch the actors’ expressions. It’s almost like they, themselves, didn’t even want to say the lines… Until the cash was flashed in front of their faces.
3. Demolition Man (1993) and Taco Bell
Demolition Man is a fucking fun film. There ain’t nothing more fun than watching two “primitive cavemen” – one a criminal, who takes his job particularly seriously, and the other an enforcer of the law, who often causes as much damage as his nemesis – rampage across a prissy and uptight futuristic America and turning it into their own personal warzone. What we didn’t pay to see were images of Taco Bell all over the fucking place.
The awakening of Spartan and Phoenix into this new world still remains like the days of old, with blatant corporate whoring all over the place. It’s not even just one line of semi-funny dialogue about how Taco Bell exists in this future. Nope. Taco Bell is so fucking awesome it won the franchise wars, it’s an establishment of fine dining, in fact, it’s the only one. People, did I mention they mention about going to Taco Bell? I just thought I’d make it clear in case the film didn’t. There’s a lot of Taco Bell in this movie.
Way, Stallone, way. Oh, and nice Jolly Green Giant plug.
4. I, Robot (2004) and Converse
It’s a thing of fucking beauty, isn’t it? Seriously, do I even need to elaborate? I, Robot has become infamous for being less of a work Asimov could have been proud of to a whole shitload of ads in succession. I have no idea how Alex Proyas went from The Crow and Dark City to this shit, and, frankly, I don’t really want to know.
5. Evolution (2001) and Head & Shoulders
So remember how I mentioned that in Mac and Me the thing that saved the aliens was Coca-Cola? Well, get ready for the reverse here… The thing that destroys the aliens in this movie? Head & fucking Shoulders. Good fucking god. It’s nice to know those assholes at Procter & Gamble paid you guys enough to doctor your whole script just so you could throw in this shit.
That’s right, folks. Americans not only save aliens with our corporate superpower, we can destroy them. Never mind the fact that we have huge guns and a nuclear arsenal, Head & Shoulders is where it’s fucking at. Combat dandruff and aliens at the source, people!
I get that that “ad” is supposed to be funny. The real question is: is it supposed to be funny?
6. Transformers (2007) and the Chevrolet Camaro
This one will have some people scratching their heads. It’s a fucking toy line about cars that transform into robots. Or robots that transform into cars… Or transforming robot-cars… Whatever. Plus the film is shit and it’s a Michael Bay vehicle, what was I to expect? Well, folks, Michael Bay proves that it is, indeed, that extra step.
In the particular scene, the detestable Shia and Megan Fox are riding around in an old Camaro (one of the Transformers). When she points out that he’s “old”, they literally stop the fucking movie to have the Camaro zip away and return as a newer model, complete with Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity playing in the background. Good fucking god.
It’s like they stopped the film just so they could splice in an ad for the Camaro. It’s not enough you gotta whore out the toy lines and the cars, you’ve got to put the movie on fucking hold just so you could showcase this shit.
It doesn’t matter what language this is in, Transformers proves once again that Michael Bay is fluent in the international language of stupidity.
7. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and Pepsi One
I like Pierce Brosnan. I like Denis Leary. I like John McTiernan. I especially like Rene Russo.
I do not like this scene. At all.
Rene attempts to one-up James Bond, the king of product placements, with one fucking scene, a whopping thirty seconds, where she singlehandedly manages to ruin this film. As Denis Leary, his pal, and the audience watch, she begins downing this Pepsi One like PepsiCo fucking paid her a million bucks to do it.
There’s just something really hollow about this scene. Oh yeah, because it’s so shameless in its self-promotion. It’s almost admirable, really. Logo visible? Check. Decent and pretty well-known actress? Check. Is she seemingly in fucking love with this product? Hell yeah. You know there are PepsiCo execs off camera high-fiving each other.
Its blatancy still baffles me to this day.
8. The Fifth Element (1997) and… Motherfucking McDonald’s
Is she on the menu, too? Can I order that drive-thru lady to go?
Seriously, I can understand why McDonald’s is here. Luc Besson’s vision of the future is that it’s almost like it is today, except far more vertically-reaching and technologized. Oh, and there are aliens, too. It’s like when Coca-Cola showed up in Blade Runner. That was blatant, but it felt wholly part of that futuristic world; corporations are so ubiquitous and powerful, it seems normal. In that same way, McD’s shouldn’t feel out of place in this world.
But it fucking does. In Blade Runner it seemed natural. It didn’t piss me off nor was I completely baffled at its inclusion in the film. Here, it pisses me off. I think it’s because Besson holds so long on it, literally getting paid by the second. He then makes a joke of it and moves on. I like The Fifth Element. I hate the scene. The funny thing about this movie is that it features a future with powerful corporations… by featuring a scene dedicated to and paid for by a powerful corporation today…
9. Zombieland (2009) and Twinkies
Tallahassee really wants a Twinkie. He, and they (as in the filmmakers), could have chosen anything in the world. Generic deep-fried ice cream. Cola without a brand name. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Hell, there are thousands of empty and devoid (other than zombies) shopping malls and grocery and convenience stores across the barren United States, chockfull of countless items…
And they had to go for the Twinkie. Am I the only one who finds it weird that it’s this hard to find a Twinkie in the United States? That’s what Woody Harrelson really wants. Sometimes you really just want the zombies to win.
“I could use a Twinkie,” he says. “I like Snowballs,” says the other. Like Ali Gator’s singleminded determination to nibble on toes in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Tallahassee’s one goal in this fucking movie is to get a Twinkie.
10. Blade: Trinity (2004) and the Apple iPod
Fuck Apple. And fuck everyone who still thinks that, in this day and age, it’s the “cool” thing to be “in” with Apple. Do I look like I give a shit?
Apparently, in 2004, David Goyer and Co. did.
A colossal step down from Del Toro’s Blade II, Goyer’s Blade: Trinity was also a colossal step up in terms of product whoring, and the most pissworthy is Apple.
Jessica Biel’s character is so hip and “cool” that apparently she listens to her iPod while kicking vampire ass. Good fucking god. That’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. And it’s not just because the words came from Ryan Reynolds’ mouth.
They took badasses like Blade and Hannibal King and turned one into a product whore and the other into Ryan Reynolds. How many more movies must this assclown ruin? Is he going for the all-time world record for comic book movie suckage?
11. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Reese’s Pieces
There. I said it.
Apparently Mars, Inc. found the alien in E.T. so ugly that they refused to allow M&M’s to be used in the movie. So the producers went with Hershey’s Reese’s Pieces. I still think you made the right decision, Mars, Inc.
I hate this movie. Every single minute of it. Mac and Me gets slammed left and right for being a big commercial, but why doesn’t E.T.? Oh no, it’s sweet and endearing. Yeah? Well so are my balls.
It sickens me the amount of abject bullshit that this movie and Steven Spielberg can get away with. I mean, the guy’s made some great films, but for some reason we hold him and his movies to some different standard than everybody else. E.T. is no different. A terrible film with blatant product whoring that somehow gets a pass.
Every time there’s some kind of product placement in a movie now, E.T. is partly to blame. Sure, there’ve been product placements before E.T. But I think Spielberg and his pals really stumbled onto something, when they showed the rest of Corporate America how useful it could be.
Hell, I don’t even like Reese’s Pieces. Everything about this movie is so wrong.
So there you have it. I’m sure there are countless others, but these are just eleven of the ones that, in some cases, really pissed me off or, in other cases, completely baffled me. I think one day I might write a piece about an actual discussion about product placements rather than a crappy list of some of them, but that’s all for now…
Now, if you’ll just excuse me. I’m going to go take a shower. The only shampoo I use is Head & Shoulders, effectively designed to target aliens and dandruff at the source. Then I’m going to put on my Omega, the only watch James Bond wears, and my Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004s, and take a walk to McDonald’s for a nice cheeseburger, while listening to my Apple iPod. For dinner, I plan to take my friends, in my Chevy Camaro, of course, to the only patented establishment of real fine dining: Taco Bell. And for desert? Twinkies, Reese’s Pieces and Pepsi ONE. Check please.
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Placements Whorings,” an entry on Night Train to ¡Mundo Terrible!
- June 19, 2012 / 10:07 am
- Apple, Blade Trinity, Bond, Camaro, Casino Royale, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Converse, Corporate America, Demolition Man, E.T., Evolution, film, Hollywood, I Robot, James Bond, McDonald's, Movies, Omega, Pepsi, product placement, product placements, product whorings, Rolex, Taco Bell, The Fifth Element, The Longest Yard, Thomas Crown Affair, toplist, Transformers, Twinkie, Twinkies, Zombieland