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The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History

We understand why movies have product placement. How are studios supposed to make money? You know, other than from ticket sales and DVDs. And merchandising.

The point is, if they have to show a Pepsi label now and then so Will Smith can keep the heat on in his home, we're fine with that. But don't rewrite the damned movie to work the product into the plot. Movies that disastrously stepped over that line include:

#10.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Loves Reese's Pieces!

Visionary filmmaker Steven Spielberg has always been a step ahead, and his 1982 alien romp ET blazed the trail for modern day product placement. The film was to have a scene where a boy coaxes an abandoned alien into his clutches by use of a classic sex offender technique: leaving a trail of candy on the filthy ground.

But not just any candy. The choice was made months prior to production when Spielberg looked for a partnership with a candy company that would promise promotion for his film. The very droppable M&M's were selected, but the suits at Mars, Inc. refused to have their treats associated with a creature whose appearance falls somewhere between stray dog with mange and syphilitic genitals.

However, the waddling little monster didn't bother the people at Hershey, who were hoping to bolster their Reese's Pieces line. An agreement was made to produce a million dollars' worth of advertisements for the film, and they plastered E.T.'s face right on the candy's packaging.

Most Shameless Scene:

The product is never mentioned by name here, though customers still had no problem identifying it by the package (as proven by 65% spike in Reeses Pieces sales after the movie hit theaters).

The same can't be said for Coors Beer, which E.T. drinks in one scene, hilariously transferring his drunkenness to an underage Elliott via a psychic connection.

You know, between the innocent getting lured into a home with candy and a young boy getting drunk against his will, we can't help but think Spielberg was working out some terrible repressed memories with this one.

#9.
Little Nicky: Sell'n Chizicken, Fo Realz!

Product placement tends to get a pass in comedies. The movie takes itself less seriously and they're free to joke about the product. But when the sloppy Adam Sandler project Little Nicky featured not one but two separate scenes devoted to Popeye's Chicken, we had to draw the line.

The first was this exchange where a dog teaches Nicky (the son of Satan) how to eat from the prominently placed bucket:

BEEFY: Move your teeth up and down.

Nicky does. He chews for a long time.

BEEFY: Now you gotta swallow it. Tilt your head back and let the meat slide down your throat-hole.

Nicky does, and gets look of complete joy.

NICKY: Hey...Popeye's chicken is fuckin' awesome!

BEEFY: It sure is. Now eat it up. You're gonna need your energy.

The scene sort of makes sense in context, since only demon spawn would enjoy food from the third-rate chicken joint. But it only gets worse from there.

Most Shameless Scene:

Here a bucket of Popeye's is used to convert the forces of darkness to good, and an actual working actor is forced to say, "Popeye's chicken is the shiznit!" forcing us to assume that Popeye's representatives were present throughout the shoot, and that they were armed.

It's a testament to Popeye's customer loyalty that the chain is still even doing business after that. It would have been a better strategy for Popeye's to pay the same amount of money to put KFC chicken in the scene.

#8.
The Thomas Crown Affair: I Fucking Love Pepsi One!

Catherine Banning is hot on the trail of debonair art thief Thomas Crown. Pierce Brosnan, who you may know from the several dozen products he sold in his role as 007, allows Renee Russo to upstage him this time in the product whoring department.

Most Shameless Scene:

Just as Russo's character puts the pieces together, she must quench the thirst that her genius has worked up:

The out-of-place factor of this Pepsi One ad is so ridiculous that the other actors in the scene seem a bit confused, as Russo gasps her lines between furious gulps. Veteran character actor Frankie Faison shoots a worried look at Dennis Leary, who can only stare on, baffled.

On one hand, this scene is an ad executive's dream. The product shares screen time with the star, where it is then used and enjoyed. But on a second viewing, it's actually sort of disturbing the way Rene Russo shotguns the can of cola, as if she's got a frat house full of dudes chanting at her.

She looks like you'd have to pry the can out of her fingers to get her into rehab. Holy shit guys, if we're going to like your syrup-water that much, we're almost scared to try it.

#7.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise...

...As cars for sale at your local GM dealer.

When long time corporate stooge Michael Bay was selected as director for the live action Transformers, fans knew to expect overwhelming action with some nice close-ups of product labels thrown in. But, as with everything Bay does, he decided bigger was better.

So, with studio contract in hand, Bay went to every major auto manufacturer to see who would offer the biggest payday. He landed on GM after they offered $3 million.

Most Shameless Scene:

When the hero's girl points out how Bumblebee is just a stinky old Camaro, he zips away and returns ... as a brand new 2009 model! Awesome!

Are you sure you guys got the message? The 2009 model will be way better than even the classic Camaros! Seriously, we totally stopped the movie just to tell you that! Pull that Chevrolet logo right up to the camera, Bumblebee!

Yes, that was a scene in the movie. And somehow, it gets worse.

Remember when we joked that Popeye's should pay to put rival KFC in that shitty scene earlier? Well, Transformers did almost exactly that.

See, they needed a car for Bumblebee to take on during his key fight scene. They didn't want any GM model to portray the bad guy, so instead the Decepticon transforms into a cop car with the body of the Camaro's market rival, the Ford Mustang. They even had to work out the deal to get around Ford's objections to being portrayed as the devil car (notice you don't see a Ford or Mustang logo on Barricade's grill).

We actually think Ford was being grossly short-sighted in the deal, as we could easily see guys walking into dealerships saying, "I want to own the car that tried to kill Shia Labeouf."

#6.
Minority Report: Horrible Ads of the Future (Today!)

In this Sci-Fi epic, Tom Cruise is trying to solve the case of a murder he's destined to commit. To change the future he'll need brains, guts and an endless amount of close-ups on an Omega watch. He can also hop in a Lexus prototype. And shop at the Gap.

Alright, so there's a lot of product placement going on. But he's just trying to survive this newfangled world of 2054, a place where the ads literally jump out at you, screaming your name.

Most Shameless Scene:

So first you're struck by the portrayal of this dystopian corporate future where invasive ads are everywhere. Then you realize they actually used the scene to sell real fucking ads for actual products.

Was the guy who came up with the idea for that scene the same one who decided to turn it into a product placement opportunity? Did any memos go back and forth on the subject and, if so, did anyone grasp the irony? Or is there even such a thing as irony in the world of marketing?

Lucky for us, these annoying ads are in a distant, imaginary future. Oh, wait, no. BMW has already started using them to promote their Mini line.

The driver's key chains are equipped with RFID technology, which allows the billboards to recognize when a Mini Cooper is in range and that the driver is a pompous jerk who'll like their name spelled out along the highway.

So, five years from now, when you can't open a magazine without a loud electronic voice asking you about your recent purchase of Dulcolax brand laxative, thank Spielberg.

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