Food brand product placement has been around for a long time. In the early 1900’s, during the infancy of cinema, even before “talkies” had been realized, savvy companies have been paying film makers for brief brand cameos on the big screen, in an attempt to make new customers out of a captive audience.

These days, any nostalgic recollection of the quaint, almost subliminal years of product placement are long gone.

Case in point, the film Food Fight (below).


Food Fight is obviously targeting a specific demographic. That being future, loyal buyers.  A film, where the stars featured are iconic mascots of  major food brands.  Product placement had ballooned from 5 second shots in a feature, to having the product itself starring front and center.

Product placement in films reached a self mocking level of over kill in the mid 80’s & 90’s. Enough that a few films from that era openly mocked the entire process. None so better than “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” featuring a very young, permed George Clooney in 1988.

The ludicrous nature of this insatiable beast was so ripe for mockery, it was turned into a documentary by Super Size Me director, Morgan Spurlock.

You know things are bad when a major brand mocks the ridiculous saturation of product placement in film while successfully managing to sell their brand in the process.

Let’s not focus the entire blame of product placement  on one medium either, as television has become  just as guilty of the excessive brand pandering.

Video Games? In the 1980’s  it got to a point where almost every lucrative food mascot was being given their own 8 bit cartridge legacy

Finally, I managed to pin point the exact moment in which product placement snubbed it’s nose at subtlety and the flood gate opened. That being the epic “Mac & Me”, a horribly blatant E.T. rip-off backed by both McDonald’s and Coca-Cola back in 1988.

Still, I’d love to put Michael Bay and David Lynch in a room and be a fly on the wall as they discuss film making and the merits of product placement within said process.

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One Response

  1. Sam

    When I was a kid, I remember we had these McDonald’s VHS tapes. They came with a Happy Meal and they were full-length cartoon movies featuring all the McDonald’s characters – Ronald, Griffin, Hamburgler, etc. But the thing is, they were actually pretty good (back then anyway). So where do you draw your line of integrity? Can a movie still be considered good if the only thing “wrong” with it is extremely overt product placement? Or does that product placement automatically render it sub-par?


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