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Product Placement Gone Wrong

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"It's like, people only do things because they get paid. And that's just really sad."
Garth Algar, Wayne's World
Wasn't this supposed to be a movie that suddenly turned into an advertisement?

Product placement is the act of taking real-life products and using them in movies. Whenever a film uses product placement, there's a good chance that the film will end up being hated by a lot of people, as, most of the time, the film literally pauses itself just to advertise that product.

Examples of Product Placement in Bad/Mediocre/Average Films

  1. Jack and Jill
  2. Foodfight!
  3. The Alvin and the Chipmunks tetralogy
  4. The Smurfs and its sequel
  5. The Emoji Movie
  6. Disaster Movie
  7. Meet the Spartans
  8. Fun Size
  9. Escape from Planet Earth
  10. Mac and Me
  11. G-Force
  12. Epic Movie
  13. Just Go With It
  14. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  15. Fantastic Four (2015)
  16. 2012
  17. Problem Child
  18. Free Birds
  19. Ghostbusters (2016)
  20. Men in Black: International
  21. Eight Crazy Nights
  22. Hellboy (2019)
  23. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
  24. Leonard Part 6
  25. North
  26. Godzilla (1998)
  27. Baby Geniuses
  28. Thunderbirds (2004)
  29. Homeward
  30. Playing with Fire
  31. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
  32. The Wizard (1989)
  33. Daddy Day Care
  34. Are We There Yet?
  35. Inspector Gadget
  36. Max Steel
  37. Disney's The Kid
  38. The Cat in the Hat (2003)
  39. Sleepover
  40. Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
  41. Space Jam: A New Legacy
  42. The Ant Bully

Why This Move Sucks

  1. First and foremost, they're very pointless and they turn the movie into an advertisement, which is not what it's supposed to be.
  2. They are mostly very distracting and are more likely gonna make you focus less on what is happening with the movie's story.
  3. It's mostly a lazy attempt at trying to sell a product and are used only to expand profits, but it doesn't even do it's job well of doing so because they're not used in a way where they are important to the story that the movie is telling, they are just there all just to get people into buying the product.
  4. It shows that the writers get lazy whenever they do this and shove products in because they run out of ideas.
  5. It puts the movie to a halt just to show the product, which is a very bad sign.
  6. Most of the time, they add absolutely nothing noteworthy or interesting to the story, you could easily take them out, and it wouldn't make any impact on the story.
  7. Some usages can also be an attempt at trying to be "hip" and "modern" with the current generation, which sounds like a bad idea because even though they might be fresh when they were first released, they will be horribly outdated in later years.
    • Sometimes, they can even do a pop culture reference to a product that is no longer relevant by the time the film was released. One notable example has to be the scene in the The Smurfs where they dedicated an entire scene to Patrick Winslow playing Guitar Hero, with the Smurfs rapping to "Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith, which is cringe-worthy and horribly dated, considering the fact that the Guitar Hero franchise lost all relevancy by the time the film was released.
  8. In live-action films, it somewhat serves as an excuse for the actors to go out.
  9. Most films that use this usually end up being panned by critics and sometimes also win a Razzie Award.
  10. The filmmakers would use the excuse that it brings realism when it only does if it's well-hidden, doesn't show too many brands or fits well within the context of the narrative such as a store.
  11. Sometimes, they can literally take up the entire movie:
    • The worst offenders are arguably He's All That (2021), The Smurfs and The Emoji Movie, in which these movies have product placements and advertisements that nearly take up entire scenes, with The Emoji Movie having dedicated scenes to random iPhone apps like YouTube, Spotify, Candy Crush, Facebook and Just Dance Now, He's All That (2021) name dropping and even showing off a bucketload of product placements throughout the duration of the film, especially for social media platforms, and The Smurfs just advertising various companies and products during the scene where the Smurfs enter the Times Square centre and when they go to FAO Schwartz.
    • In the case of Ralph Breaks the Internet and Space Jam: A New Legacy, they exist mainly to self promote the studios that made these movies. Even though the former only has one or two scenes dedicated to it and tons of merchandise with the Disney Princesses with the Ralph Breaks the Internet character designs, the latter is worse as almost, if not, the entirety of it is basically just a self-promoted advertisement for Warner Bros. Pictures.
    • To some extent, even Pixels and the movie adaptations of both Ready Player One and 'Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) have some self promotion (the Chip and Dale movie almost feeling like a self promotion for Disney themselves, alas Ralph Breaks the Internet based on the assumption of the trailers alone), despite the rest of the product placement being for many different IPs from other companies. The main problem with this is, they do it in a way where it feels like that is the only thing they have to offer, and it lacks room for completely original ideas for the main plot of the story. The first Wreck-It Ralph movie is a good example of how to place IPs as minor characters sparingly, as well as maintaining plenty of original ideas for the main story.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Product placement can sometimes be used efficiently, and sometimes parodied very well without being shoved down the audiences' throats. Some examples include:
  2. Some of them can be a bit funny and be used for laughs, like the scene in Wayne's World, where Garth Algar jokes about how "it's like people only do things because they get paid" and that it's "really sad", while wearing Reabok merchandise at the same time, which is a nice jab at the movement, the scene in Looney Tunes: Back in Action where Bugs, Daffy, Kate and D.J. Drake see a Walmart and enter in there really makes a good joke with regards to product placement, or even the infamous Dunkinchino musical scene from Jack and Jill, which, you guess it, became a meme and the best moment of the film.
  3. Films that take place in not so modern periods or too fictional settings like Star Wars, most of Disney films from 1939 to the 1990s don't have product placement unless if these kind of films are parodies, or even some of the animated ones outside the US like Nahuel and the Magic Book, Boy and the World, Song of the Sea, Klaus, A Costume for Nicholas, Where Is Anne Frank and My Father's Secret.
  4. Some product placement can be necessary such as newspapers and sport teams to highlight the setting and the characters' hometown pride.
  5. For pop culture references, it can be done to acknowledge a film's influences or the creator (or their family members) being a fan of them or the time period the film takes place in.
  6. Companies and brands that appear in works that weren't included via payment don't qualify as product placement and thus are more well integrated. This is very evident for works released before 1982 when E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial pioneered and popularized the concept of product placement through its deal with The Hershey Company by including the then recently introduced Reece's Pieces in the film as well as works made for premium cable networks (like HBO, Showtime, and Starz) and streaming services (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Premium, Disney+, and HBO Max) as an alternative for commercials since they are not supported by advertising.


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