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I went to the British site mentioned and their list of worst offenders in product placement was (I've edited the comments down):
Wikipedia wrote:The film makes heavy use of product placements for Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Ovaltine, Audi, FedEx, Dos Equis, and JVC among others, all of them are introduced within the first ten minutes of the film. One particularly infamous scene borderlines into actual advertisement territory in which a character compliments Will Smith's character's shoes to which he replies "Converse All Star. Vintage 2004" (the year of the film's release). Audi was the company that invested the most on the film, going as far as creating a special car for I, Robot, the Audi RSQ, which would increase brand awareness and raise the emotional appeal of the Audi brand, objectives that were considered achieved when surveys conducted in the United States showed that the Audi RSQ gave a substantial boost to the image ratings of the brand in the States. The Audi RSQ is seen during nine minutes of the film, although other Audis like the Audi A6, the Audi TT and the Audi A2 can be seen sprinkled throughout the film. I, Robot was ranked "the worst film for product placement" on a British site.
A completely gratuitous shot of Peter Parker firing his web at a Dr. Pepper can, and a scene in which Spidey himself lands on a moving Carlsberg truck (conveniently shot at an angle where the logo gains maximum exposure). What makes it worse is the fact that Sony lobbied for the new 12A age rating to be introduced, so they were basically selling beer to kids.
Ivan Reitman’s action comedy tells of the evolution of an alien species, starting off as little more than a pile of goo, before morphing into dinosaur-like winged creatures and finally evolving into a gigantic puss-filled blob. The only thing that can kill this amorphous being just happens to be Head & Shoulders shampoo. Ignoring the fact that it’s fucking stupid, what particularly rankles is the end scene, in which Mulder, Stifler and the black dude from Office Space goof off to camera and perform a ‘joke’ advert for the shampoo, breaking the fourth wall and letting you know they’re in on the gag.
8. Back To The Future Parts I-III
An early example of the big brand names ‘synergising’ with the biggest movies of the year. Sure, you can argue that it’s all very tongue-in-cheek – Marty’s mother thinking he’s called Calvin Klein, the self-tying Nikes in Back to the Future II – and you’d be right, but it’s still utterly shameless in its constant referencing of modern day products. I’ve no problem with the inclusion of the DeLorean – hell, it made the film what it was and it’s not like it did them any good anyway – but watching it back now, with its jokes about Pepsi, flagrant advertisements for Mattel and AT&T and the aforementioned clothing products, it’s cringeworthy in the extreme.
7. Demolition Man
Having been thawed out to hunt down Wesley Snipes’ badly-dressed villain, Sylvester Stallone’s cop is shocked to discover that all fast-food restaurants are now Taco Bells (for the movie’s overseas release, the reference was changed to Pizza Hut). An awful joke, and one which Taco Bell paid handsomely for (I was quite surprised to learn that both Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are companies owned by Pepsi, which I guess makes a lot of sense given that the soft-drink manufacturer is one of the worst offenders for product placement).
6. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Checking his e-mail in his car, international man of mystery Austin Powers is informed by the annoying AOL voice man that he has mail, complete with a full-screen shot of an AOL inbox and logo.
5. Minority Report
Steven Spielberg is arguably the guy who opened the eyes of Hollywood producers that they could make a hell of a lot of money via product placement, way back in E.T. with the inclusion of the Reese’s Pieces chocolate bar. Here, he’s up to his old tricks again, with Tom Cruise’s fugitive cop running through a shopping mall in the not-too-distant future. Holographic personalised adverts flash before our hero’s eyes, with ads for Guinness and Lexus addressing him directly due to the Iris recognition system that clocks him as he enters. Spielberg reportedly collected a group of brand analysts and those goobers that dictate what’s hot and what’s not to come up with the kind of ads we’ll be seeing in the future, and though it’s a scarily accurate prediction, it doesn’t benefit in the slightest by using real brands and companies.
4. Cast Away
Two hours and twenty minutes of Tom Hanks doing nothing on an island, interspersed with ads for sports manufacturers Wilson and Federal Express. Tom, you see, works for Federal Express, and it’s while on a Federal Express plane that he crashes, with only the contents of Federal Express packages to keep him alive. Federal Express Federal Express Federal Express. Tom’s only friend on the island is a volleyball, with the manufacturer’s logo on the front. Naturally, as he starts going a little crazy, Tom converses with his new friend Wilson, continually referencing the brand name under the pretension of whimsy.
3. Blade: Trinity
Wins the award for most pointless product placement of all time. Because fighting vampires while dressed in tight leather trousers isn’t cool enough, the makers of the third Blade movie decided to give Jessica Biel’s character Abigail the quirk of listening to an iPod while she’s kicking ass, complete with a scene where she downloads songs from iTunes and creates a playlist for her next encounter.
2. The Island
The Island is a serial offender; just when you think [Michael] Bay can’t cram any more adverts down your throat, he shoves a Puma trainer up your arse and takes a swig of Michelob beer. Numerous Microsoft logos are littered around the future cityscape (incuding, bizarrely, an Xbox-related ad that was already out-of-date when the movie opened), plus lingering shots of Nokia phones, Aquafin water bottles, Macintosh trucks and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Unbelievably, Bay even uses a real Chanel TV advertisement which features star Scarlett Johansson, under the pretence that her clone’s doppelganger is an actress, and, y’know, appears in adverts.
1. I, Robot
“Converse, vintage 2004.” Never before has one line sunk a movie so fast. The first ten minutes of Alex Proyas’ I, Robot contains more examples of product placement than any other film I’ve seen, and there are none more odious than the completely unnecessary scene in which Will Smith reveals he wears Chucks. Who gives a shit, asshole? How about you go fight some fucking robots and stop trying to sell me trainers? Smith drives around town in an Audi (made exclusively for the movie, fact fans), listens to his music on a JVC CD player, has his mail delivered by Tom Hank’s FedEx and generally acts like a walking, talking billboard.
While I generally don't let product placement ruin a film for me, the worst offender in my eyes is Casino Royale and the entire Bond franchise. Remember when critics dubbed Die Another Day "Buy Another Day"?
The reason Bond stands out to me is because of the tiresome tie-in ads that run on TV during the whole cinematic release. I remember Omega, Ford, and Sony Ericsson ads going on and on, so when I finally saw the film I couldn't take it seriously when Omega, Ford and Sony Ericsson each got their 30 seconds of unnecessary (and blatantly obvious) screen time. On the other hand you have guys like Michael Bay defending product placement. I also recall Bay saying in connection with Transformers in 2007 that his sponsorship deals with GM were necessary to pay for the films expensive effects which could not be archived with only 150mill dollars. What annoys me personally most with Bay is his sucking up to the army so he gets access to their equipment. His deals are that if he "makes the army look good" and pays for the cost of running the helicopters/planes/tanks he borrows, he can have free access. Not only do I dislike paying money to see an ad for the army [EDITED what I think you must be considering as the offensive part], but Bay's movies actually make young men consider signing up.
So what are your thoughts on product placement in films? Is it wrong in every way, or doesn't it matter?