#3. The Incredible Hulk and Sleepy's Mattress Professionals
In 2008, in an effort to educate people on the dangers of not buying their mattresses, Sleepy's Mattress Professionals decided to join forces with The Incredible Hulk, who is a character who does not sleep.
In the comic, Bruce Banner is suffering from a crazy case of insomnia, which is causing more frequent fits of Hulk rage than usual. Bruce tries to science the hell out of the problem, but no matter how many tests he runs, he just can't seem to figure it out. It's like the plot of Fight Club if Edward Norton was a scientist and Brad Pitt was Lou Ferrigno.
In other words, if Fight Club was better.
With sleep eluding him once again, Bruce Hulks out and starts breaking things. Luckily, The Sleepy's Man comes swooping in on a flying mattress to take Hulk down with one well-placed mattress to the foot. You see, The Sleepy's Man knew all along that the only thing Bruce needed to cure his insomnia was a quality affordable mattress. Beyond that, no aspect of the mattress mascot's presence or abilities are ever explained.
G ... Gamma Rays?
Unfortunately, the instant Hulk falls asleep, the pair find themselves transported into a strange dream dimension existing wholly within Hulk's mind, a place where no living being was ever meant to venture. There, Hulk and Sleepy's Man discover that Bruce's insomnia was actually brought about by a Freddy Kruger-esque villain called Nightmare, who, as his name suggests, has the ability to haunt people's nightmares. Nightmare has been living in Bruce's mind and harassing him, in the name of the endless villainous pursuit of shits and giggles.
It turns out the Hulk's greatest fear is David Bowie with shitty hair.
Unsurprisingly, Hulk elects to smash, while the Sleepy's Man provides support in the form of invaluable sleep-related puns. Hulk's stupefying strength and Sleepy's breezy annoyingness prove to be no match against Nightmare on his own turf, until a poorly-aimed sonic Hulk Clap shatters the barrier between the dream world and reality, presumably causing Hulk only a moderate amount of brain damage in the process.
"HULK BREAK MIND WALL. NOW HULK CAN'T REMEMBER COLORS."
Nightmare gets violently shat out into the real world with them, where Hulk proceeds to beat the everloving Jesus out of him with a durable, dependable mattress, courtesy of Sleepy's Mattress Professionals.
Sleepy's: One way or another, you're going to fucking sleep.
#2. Rush City and Pontiac
In 2006, Pontiac teamed up with DC Comics to produce a six-issue series about a guy named Rush and his Pontiac Solstice, which you may recognize as the convertible people settle for. To give the character a little street cred, he was teamed up with Black Canary, unquestionably one of the most popular characters on the DC roster.
Rush is a former New York firefighter with a mysterious past that nobody cares about, and of course a Pontiac Solstice, which he uses to drive around and search for missing persons that he has been paid to locate, because apparently superheroes and Dog the Bounty Hunter are the same thing. One such mission leads him on a chase through New York City as he tries to save some foreign exchange student from the clutches of the villainous Gearhead, a half-man half-car cyborg who apparently hates the shit out of hotdog vendors.
Rush is able to stop Gearhead by deploying a miniature Pontiac Solstice EMP grenade in two of the most confusing panels in the history of comic book illustration.
"... wait, did he shrink? What the hell am I looking at?"
The subsequent electrical explosion causes Gearhead to crash, allowing Rush and Black Canary to retrieve the kidnapped student from the wreckage.
Unlike Pontiac, FedEx obviously contributed zero dollars to this publication.
Rush and Black Canary heroically leave the scene of the accident, only to have Gearhead spring miraculously back to life and come giggling after them.
... why does he need a steering wheel?
Concerned that his brand new Pontiac Solstice will get damaged in the hail of bullets erupting from Gearhead's after-market Gatling gun, Rush sends his convertible screaming into the nearest subway station, a turn of events that we are quite frankly amazed Pontiac was OK with. After all, nothing helps sell a car like driving it into a densely packed crowd of people.
"I still have 34 more payments left on this thing! Get the hell out of the way!"
In an effort to minimize civilian casualties, Rush does what any sane person would do and pilots his rumbling stallion directly onto the tracks and tries to outrun the evening Red Line train.
"The Solstice handles like a dream, even on an enclosed railway!" -Pontiac.
Unfortunately for Rush, Gearhead is just as crazy as he is and chases right after him, having now morphed into some kind of giant metal spider outfitted with an entire arsenal of tools from an automobile assembly line.
"Or should I say disassembly line?! Bwa ha ha ha ha!"
The comic ends shortly thereafter when Gearhead gets abruptly run over by a train. Unsurprisingly, Rush City didn't last much longer (and neither did Pontiac).
#1. The Justice League and Subway and the Olympics
Justice League/Subway: Famous Fans features your favorite heroes from the Justice League teaming up with a handful of Olympic athletes to promote the Subway menu, although the title is a bit misleading considering each "famous fan" was handsomely paid for their involvement rather than contributing their likenesses based on sheer enthusiasm for sandwiches.
In one issue, former Olympians Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin and Apolo Ohno sit down after a solid day of training to shove handfuls of meatball subs with roughly the same nutritional value as a Big Macs into their faces (as all world-class athletes do), when Batman comes sailing through the wall next to them.
Desperately in need of a meatball marinara sandwich.
Moments later, the villainous Mr. Freeze and Solomon Grundy come marching in through the Batman-shaped hole. The two evildoers clearly do not realize that they are about to be supremely outmatched by a small girl, a pothead and a guy who is seriously awesome at ice skating.
Before the battle can commence, the writers had to include at least one panel of Michael Phelps swimming, since swimming on its own is not the best tool against evil (see Aquaman). So, when Mr. Freeze starts blasting the pool with his ice gun, a child suddenly appears in the deep end for Phelps to dive in and save. However, the situation was apparently not a dire enough emergency to prevent Phelps from stopping to put his goddamned goggles on before leaping into the water.
"It's OK, everyone! The chlorine didn't get in my eyes!"
Taking a page from The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Nastia does a series of unnecessary gymnastic flourishes before dropkicking Mr. Freeze in the back, effectively neutralizing the master criminal.
And making every superhero in the DC universe look a little more lame.
With the crises averted, Nastia and Green Latern share a good laugh about Batman's lack of super powers, to which Batman responds by more or less telling them to kiss his ass. He then demands to know where the plucky Olympians got their extra energy, and Apollo heroically informs him that it all came from fresh avocado slices on their delicious Subway sandwiches. Michael Phelps transforms into Kris Humphries in the last panel to deliver a non-joke about eating more avocado sandwiches than anyone else, and everyone shares a good laugh.
"Ha ha! But seriously, don't pull any of that 'avocado' nonsense on The Joker, he'd have killed you all in nine seconds."
For more people who sold out terribly, check out The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History and The 6 Most Absurd Product Placements in Video Game History.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 5 Most Insulting Defenses of Nerd Racism.