Dr. Pepper - Spiderman (2002, Raimi) - The first film I ever saw on a date (this was when I was 11). Again it has the same problem with the pristine Dr. Pepper cans as Real Steel did, however they weren’t quite as shiny back then. Handily Peter Parker decides to test out his new abilities by carefully placing a drink can with the logo facing him (possibly with drink left inside) and then smashing up the place in order to catch it. This then leads to an awkward exchange with his aunt while he’s trying to hide his progression through puberty and his bedroom covered in a white gooey substance (I’m glad I didn’t get the joke when I was 11) - at least the lamp he broke has mysteriously mended itself though.
Coke Zero - Scott Pilgrim Versus The World (2010, Wright) - Although I have both read and seen Scott Pilgrim (seeing it first in the cinema five times), I had become sure that this was a cross-platform product placement, and as such wouldn’t have any bad connotations due to the source material being Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Canadian indie comic that rose to great popularity. However, it turns out that the only cola that appears in the book is not branded, and the ‘Zero’ t-shirt Scott wears in both the book and film (which I now also own - product placement works), is actually a reference to the Smashing Pumpkins. Although I’m not sure if money changed hands for this one, it definitely still is a good thematic fit with the numbers system in the series and Scott Pilgrim being the “zero”, it’s just strange that it pervaded my knowledge of the original source material too.
Burger King, Nintendo Wii - Iron Man (2008, Favreau) - I can’t say that I originally noticed quite how much product placement there is in the Iron Man films, but it turns out there’s a lot. Of course as soon as Tony Stark’s out of captivity the first thing he’d like is a nice tasty Burger King burger (obviously there was a tie-in with the kids meals too). Aside from the obvious ones, the placement I did notice and enjoy, as almost a similar easter egg to Cap’s shield showing up, was the Wii by Tony Stark’s television. There were horrible video game tie-ins of course, but it just seems amusing to think of Stark demeaning himself from his amazing personally created motion technology to the likes of Wii Tennis. But I guess if he’s drunk enough he’ll do anything -
But also the likes of these and many more showed up: Bulgari watches, Dell computers, LG Phones, Vanity Fair, Wired, Rolling Stone magazine and of course the US Military - However, although some railed against this, I think that some of it (not all) fits appropriately with the character and the universe. At least the pizza and donuts he eats are from “Ray’s”.
Barack Obama? - Burnout Paradise - This is the first example of political advertising in videogames I’ve come across for this blog, and although this is from 2008, it seems rather fitting at the moment. This was not the only game he made an appearance in. Obama also showed up in Madden NFL 09 and others (most notably, more recently in NBA 2K12 when Obama was unlockable as a head coach as you can see here).
Heineken, Sony, Coca-Cola, Omega, Tom Ford etc - Skyfall - As typical of Bond films, there is a bunch of product placement in Bond 23. With MGM being in such a dire state in terms of money it’s quite understandable. Daniel Craig recently defended the film’s product placement, saying ”We couldn’t afford to make those movies if we didn’t have those sponsors - it’s a fact of life and it’s been happening for the past 50 years.” ”I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” and I think he’s right. It’s something to be expected with these films and it’s noway near as bad as some of the other stuff on this blog. In all honesty I didn’t actually notice the beer problem, which seems to be what most people are taking issue with (it seems to be more to do with the fact that he’s drinking beer instead of a martini, but it fits within this new grittier Bond, and is appropriate in terms of the story that he’d be drinking beer at this point)
Of course there are also a number of cars involved in this film as per Bond tradition. The only bit I really didn’t like was when Naomie Harris’ character pointed out to bond that there were VW Beetles on a train. It just seemed to mess up the rhythm of the dialogue for her to bother saying the full name. But the film itself was fantastic, and you also then do get to see something not overly nice happen to those beetles, so not the best advert if you’re looking for a heavy duty car then.
Every Product in the 1960s - Mad Men - I can’t believe I didn’t think of this one sooner. Although technically not “poor product placement”, it is still product placement, but in one of the most genius ways possible. Building a show set at an advertising company, and actually have it being good? A masterstroke. There are a lot of big hitters in there too: Lucky Strike is the first and most prominent in the show, an episode is built around Betty Draper being in a coca-cola advert, there are numerous cars, cleaning products, clothing products, etc etc. The manner in which all of this is handled seems a little bit hazy as to who is paying who, but it’s seamlessly done all the same.
Subway - Community - Continuing today’s Community theme I have the second excellent example of product placement done well in television. Having pre-established within previous episodes that there was a slot for a sandwich shop in the school’s cafeteria, it already is an appropriate fit. But as the video above demonstrates, the show goes a step further than that by anthropomorphising the company (in a bit of amusing political satire) in order to provide an explanation as to why Subway can operate in what’s meant to be a student run area. Subway definitely had a good sense of humour to allow this through as the episode does make fun of them. But I think this will probably be the only example in history of when a humanised company falls in love with one of the main characters (There are even fans that are shipping Britta and Subway). Community does everything well.
Domino’s Pizza - Everquest II - This is quite a strange one. The game actually added a command which made it possible for players to order pizza within the game. I don’t think it ever really worked that well as the same box they were playing on could also have a much better internet interface on it too. But quite unique all the same