Making a movie isn’t exactly cheap. Sometime hundreds of millions of dollars are required just to produce it, with a lot more added for marketing costs. Because of this, studios are always looking for ways to get a little help financially. One of the most popular methods to accomplish this is incorporating product placement within a film. This is when corporations strike a deal with the filmmakers to place their products prominently on screen, offering money to aid with the budget. There is a place for this practice, but sometimes it causes more trouble than it’s worth. Here are 10 horrible instances of product placement in movies.
Captain America: Civil War
One of the most thrilling action sequences in this MCU installment was the chase involving Bucky Barnes, Black Panther, and Captain America. The three superheroes outran moving cars during the scene, and Audi wanted to get in on all the fun. A longtime partner of the MCU, the car manufacturer produced a television spot to tie into the film’s release, showcasing a family driving in an Audi vehicle that’s caught in between all the excitement. Steve Rogers is about as American as you can get, so seeing him pimp out for German luxury vehicles is a bit jarring.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
In the buildup to this highly anticipated sequel, Samsung got to premiere an Age of Ultron trailer on their YouTube channel, so it wasn’t any surprise that the tech company got some screen time in the actual film. Black Widow using a Samsung tablet to examine data about Loki’s scepter is one thing, but the brief shot of a Samsung store – complete with an advertisement for the Galaxy smart phone in the frame – was a bit much and seemed like a commercial in the midst of all the action. There wasn’t any real need for it to be a Samsung store, and it was arguably a little distracting.
The scene where young James Kirk steals his stepfather’s car was the perfect introduction to the charming rogue of a protagonist. There was just one detail that didn’t sit well with fans. As Kirk speeds down the road, he gets a call from his angry stepfather on a Nokia cell phone that’s mounted in the vehicle. It pulls someone out of the futuristic movie to see a modern day product, and the familiar Nokia ringtone just sealed the deal. The same could be said about Uhura ordering a “Budweiser classic” at a bar. In a sci-fi movie, you have the creative leeway to make your own products, and directors should take advantage of that.
The granddaddy of product placement, James Bond has been selling products since the Sean Connery days. In the 50+ years since 007 first graced the big screen, he’s driven Aston Martins and worn Omega watches. Perhaps the oddest bit of product placement came in Skyfall, the first film in which Heineken paid $45 million to be Bond’s favorite beverage. It’s quite a departure from his normal martini, and the trademark green bottle is so distinct, there’s no mistaking it for anything else. It’s passable when Bond is relaxing on a beach, but as MI6 tries to figure out their next course of action, the beer sticks out like a sore thumb.
Google didn’t fund this Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn vehicle, but you’d be forgiven if you thought they did. The entire movie acts as free advertising for the company, constantly discussing just how awesome Google is at everything. Google even got in on the creative process, aiding with the script and scratching a scene in which one of their self-driving cars crashes. It came across as too self-congratulatory, and the overall message didn’t mesh well with the brand of comedy Wilson and Vaughn broke in with in Wedding Crashers. Many just saw it as one long advertisement, and the film flopped upon its release.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Zack Snyder attempted to right the wrongs of Man of Steel’s ending by retconning it from Bruce Wayne’s perspective in Batman V Superman. The Gotham billionaire watches in horror as aliens destroy his buildings, and he speeds in a vehicle to get his co-workers to safety. His car of choice is the all-new Jeep Renegade, but there’s a slight problem. The film’s opening sequence is supposed to be set in 2013, when Man of Steel was released. But this particular Jeep didn’t come out until 2016. Bruce was driving a car that wasn’t built yet. Mr. Wayne has all kinds of toys, but even this is a bit much for him.