The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History

#5. You've Got Mail: All You Need is Love, AOL and Starbucks

It would be easy to point to Cast Away as Tom Hank's biggest corporate whoring effort, but FedEx never paid for it (they were worried about the plane crash sequence). No, for the real crime against cinema we present You've Got Mail, a remake of a crappy romantic comedy from 1940.

Most Shameless Scene:

Here, a dial-up AOL modem and Meg Ryan's unruined face compete to make the movie feel older than it actually is. The whines of the connecting modem are almost as grating as Tom Hanks giving a step by step tutorial on how to order at Starbucks.

The speech tries passing itself off as cynical social commentary, but Hanks refers to the products by their Starbucks-endorsed size names of "tall and short," and his main complaint seems to be that Starbucks makes ordering too easy. Those bastards! While it may not enhance the story or, y'know, offer character insight, the speech probably kept the production crew swimming in free (burnt) coffee grounds. And how else were they going to stay awake while making You've Got Mail?

#4. I, Robot: "Vintage 2004"

Will Smith is trying to unravel a robot conspiracy but all anyone can talk about is his goddamn shoes. The product placement in this adaptation of I, Robot is just one reason it had Isaac Asimov spinning in his grave so furiously he accidentally created a wormhole in China.

First you have the Audi concept car that got 4 1/2 minutes of screen time. But he had to drive something, right?

But then, you've got the fucking shoes.

Most Shameless Scene:

Someone has helpfully spliced together the film's attempt to stomp us in the face with its Converse All-Stars, Vintage 2004:

It's all just too depressing, especially considering how long it took to get this complex, murder mystery/sci-fi thriller made, undergoing several rewrites along the way. Once Will Smith was attached, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman dumbed it down perfectly. Using "find and replace" he was able to swap depth of story with big ass robot fights.

For the product placement, however, we can thank Nike, which bought Converse in 2003 and was looking to re-energize the brand. The entire film plays like a live action billboard and we don't think even Michael Bay could have topped it for sheer whoredom.

#3. The Island: Michael Bay Tops It

We stand corrected. With The Island, Michael Bay just decided once and for all he'd find out where the line is on product placements (meaning "the line beyond which the audience rises up and burns down the theater"). This explosion-filled ad-fest featured no fewer than 35 paid-for placements.

Michael Bay staunchly defends his placements in the film on the DVD commentary, saying, "Let's face it, guys. The world is focused on products. Products surround us. And for us to think, in the year 2019, that we're not gonna still be focused, and still have products and labels flying at us from every different vantage point, is just unreal. It's just not a true world."

So you see, it makes sense that an uneducated race of clones living in an underground society would be shown logos for Puma, Speedo, Aquafina and Xbox. Those moneyless organ donors are a very hot demographic.

Most Shameless Scene:

Sci-fi action flicks like The Island have to pick their products carefully, lest they wind up like the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The 6th Day, which is forever stuck portraying the XFL as the sport of the future. To avoid such embarrassment, Bay just threw in a real Calvin Klein ad that the real Scarlett Johansson was starring in at the time the movie was made. In the movie, her character escapes into the real world and finds out she's the clone of a famous model/actress, who happens to be starring in the ads.

So here's the movie:

And here's the commercial:

This is what happens when Michael Bay tries to blow your mind. We'll give you a moment to wipe your brains off your monitor.

#2. The Wizard: "It's So Bad."

In the late 80s there was a screenwriter, who moved to Hollywood with big dreams. Then, one day he was told that Universal Studios and Nintendo had partnered to create a 90-minute theatrical commercial and that his job was to write a movie around it. Thus he sat down at his typewriter, probably surrounded by several cases of liquor, and The Wizard was born.

The finished product is a convoluted plot involving a boy (Fred Savage) who kidnaps his disabled half-brother and travels cross-country with him, Rainman-style. It turns out the boy has an uncanny talent for playing Nintendo games, and through a series of accidents they wind up competing in a $50,000 video game tournament which happens to be held at Universal Studios.

Most Shameless Scene:

A young man explains that all it takes to become a video game master is to spend a little more on the right Nintendo accessories:

In the course of the movie we wind up with endorsements for the Nintendo Power Glove, the Nintendo Game Hint Line, the Nintendo Power magazine and countless games, until the whole thing culminates in the unveiling of Super Mario Bros. 3.

By the way, if you want to know just how drunk that writer got in the course of churning out this corporate turd, check out the below scene. Here, the parents of the young boy Fred Savage kidnapped hire a private detective to track him down. Our heroes thwart the detective when the 13 year-old girl they're traveling with falsely accuses him of fondling her breasts:

This sequence of child molestation-related entertainment was brought to you by Universal Studios and Nintendo.

#1. Mac and Me: All the Evidence an Atheist Needs

We come full circle now, from the godfather of product placement, E.T., to this atrocious low budget rip-off that would represent the nadir of product placement, if the movie wasn't so unintentionally awesome.

(Big) Mac and Me was completely backed by McDonald's and Coca-Cola. Using the "more-is-more" strategy, this film features an entire family of aliens badly injured and stranded on earth. Somehow, their recovery is literally dependent on drinking Coca-Cola. Fortunately, since this movie was made by them, there's plenty to go around.

Most Shameless Scene:

Still, that can't quite top Ronald McDonald's cameo, in this bizarre song and dance sequence:

This film is not a musical. Nor is it ever explained why everyone is dancing and flipping through the air at this McDonalds. But it does have a repulsive alien doing the jitterbug in a bear suit on a fast food counter, which is pretty funny in a nightmarish way.

In fact, you could say that about the whole film. The alien's have assholes for mouths, the crippled boy keeps throwing hissy fits, there are terrible production values and the film ends with an intentionally terrifying superimposed "We'll be Back!".

All of this combined incompetence forms something that's almost genius, in an accidental way. We could go on and on, but instead we'll just leave you with this clip of a handicapped boy getting flung off a 500-foot cliff.



For more Will Smith movies that were ruined by idiots other than Will Smith, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes. Or for more reasons to fear corporations, read about Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here

604 Comments

The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!