Shameless Promotion: Product Placement in Movies
Ever wondered how exactly Hollywood manages to pay for all of those huge explosions, fancy cars and special effects? Sure, they make money off of ticket sales, but that’s not it.
In fact, production companies make gobs of money just by allowing other big names to pimp their stuff in movies. That way, instead of advertising their wares via commercial, the unsuspecting audience gets lulled into craving Coke via their favorite actors tossing back a cold one in the heat of the moment.
Don’t believe me? Check out some of the most blatant offenders when it comes to product placements.
The Amazing Spider-Man
This is truly how we know that Spider-Man is truly a work of fiction. Not because he was bitten by a radioactive spider, not because he can spit webs out of his wrists; but because we all know that Peter Parker would never use Bing! to search for something online.
But that’s what Sam Raimi wants us to believe when he prominently places the secondary search giant on Spider-man’s computer. As if he wouldn’t just use Google like the rest of us.
Transformers: 1, 2 and 3
The product placements in the Transformers franchise are about as subtle as a slap to the face. Even the first one established a long history between the movie and one of their biggest backers, GM.
Watch as dirty old Camaro Bumblebee suddenly turns into a smooth new version of the Camaro that Chevy had redesigned and released that year! Hummer, Chevy, GMC and other brands under the GM name also made a hefty representation. But that wasn’t it for the movies; they also had deals with Apple, Lenovo, Burger King, Mountain Dew, eBay and a slew of other companies.
The 2010 remake of the old ’70s classic would never be confused with the real deal. Not only were the characters completely different, but the iconic A-Team GMC van was long gone by the first scene.
Instead, all of the cars in the movie were replaced with shiny Mercedes-Benz models, thanks to a substantial product placement deal that would put the original A-Team to shame.
Iron Man: 1 & 2
Whenever a movie is packed with technology, special effects and a fanboy following, it’s prime real estate for tech companies. That would explain why Tony Stark is shown with brands like Audi – probably the biggest placement in the movies – Burger King, LG, Bvlgari and even Rolling Stone.
And while you might think that Tony Stark has the bank account to feature the brands out of the goodness of his heart, Marvel Productions raked in a pretty penny so that companies could show off their latest gadgets and products.
Toy Story 1, 2 and 3
No, not even children’s shows are impervious to being tainted by product placement. The real trick is that Pixar/Disney‘s love-child manages to make product placements seem nostalgic rather than blaring.
Mr. Potato Head, Mattel Barbies and Fisher Price baby toys all take center stage and managed to launch a revival for each of the classic toys on the show, not to mention licensing rights with Disney to sell the toys in their own stores. Of course, you don’t even realize the slick trick until your kid starts begging you for a workout Barbie on the way home from the theater.
Hey, it’s just a fact of life. Production companies need to fund movies and companies need to advertise their stuff in sneaky ways, so product placements are pretty much a fact of life. Of course, now I’m really hungry for some Burger King. The system works!