13 Pop-Culture Staples That Were Really Just Sponcon

13 Pop-Culture Staples That Were Really Just Sponcon

If your TV or movie production is getting a tad pricey, just tap one of your more “salesy” producers to hit up some major corporations. If they think a decent amount of eyes will be on it, they’ll throw in some cash, provide the products, or heck, they might even fund the whole thing!

Product placement and corporate sponsorship isn’t a new thing. Some cite the “Red Crown Gasoline” logo in the 1920 buster Keaton film The Garage as the first ever product placement, but historians say it’s been around since the dawn of cinema in the late 1800s. It probably just seems new, since some recent flicks don’t even try to hide the commercial within the movie anymore. 

Any fellow ‘80s kids giving this list a once-over might be shocked to realize that a ton of our favorite shows were made solely to hawk toys. Well, it worked. They got us. Does the fact that we were hustled somewhat sully our fandom? Maybe. But it’s comforting to know that other generations were/are gettin’ it too. Here are 13 pop culture staples that were really just sponcon.

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To be fair, Nike was EVERYWHERE in the mid to late ‘80s.

CRACKED NIKE AND PEPSI WERE ALL OVER THE BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY. Writer and producer Bob Gale had the specific goal of attracting brands. In the original, Marty asks for a Pepsi Free (decaffeinated Pepsi), and the shop owner responds, If you want a Pepsi, you're gonna have to pay for it. For the sequel, they worked with Nike to come up with the self-tying shoes.

WSJ / Vox 

Hey movie. Yes, Ford. You got 10 minutes to spare? Sure, Ford.

CRACKED A NEARLY 10-MINUTE FORD COMMERCIAL IN BULLITT. The 1968 movie featured Steve McQueen in a 9 minute 42 second car chase in a Ford Mustang GT. Ford paid for the placement, and it helped sell over 1 million units the following year. The movie car sold for $3.4 million in 2020. MINES 658

Seattle Times

CBS made 3 attempts to capitalize on The California Raisins.

CRACKED THE CALIFORNIA RAISIN SHOW AND OTHER FAILED ATTEMPTS. The claymation Motown group had a string of successful '80s ads, so in 1988, CBS aired the TV special Meet the Raisins! They released a Saturday morning series in 1989, and a sequel to the special in 1990. Wow, they really kept trying to make it work!

TV Insider / IMDB 

The product placement in Jurassic World was basically a subplot.

CRACKED EVERY BRAND EVER IN JURASSIC WORLD. Placements (some shown 15 to 18 times) include Mercedes, Pandora, Starbucks, Bose, Samsung, Beats by Dre, a Triumph motorcycle, Coca-Cola, Jeep, Ben & Jerry's, FedEx, and many more.

WaPo / Decider 

Yeah, but how many Navy recruits quit after realizing it’s nowhere near as cool as the movie?

CRACKED THE NAVY AND RAY-BAN HAD TOP GUN TO THANK. After Top Gun, Ray-Ban Aviator sales were up 40%. And thanks to making the Navy look cool, the number of applicants rose 500% that year.

Brands and Films / Pathé Thuis 

The Care Bears went from greeting cards to toys, to shows, to movies.

CRACKED THE CARE BEARS WERE ORIGINALLY CREATED AS GREETING CARDS. In 1983, the popular cards were made into plush toys, and the original cartoon was created to promote the toy line. The show lasted 4 seasons, which launched 3 movies and a spin-off show Care Bears & Cousins.

CBR / Ranker 

Thirty minutes is a lot different than thirty seconds!

CRACKED CAVEMEN: FROM GEICO AD TO FAILED SITCOM. Geico's original so easy a caveman could do it ads were pretty funny, but did not warrant their own show. The ABC sitcom only lasted 6 episodes and was dubbed one of the worst sitcoms of all time.

Screenrant / IMDB 

Product placement made Dr. Dre a billionaire.

CRACKED BEATS BY DRE HEADPHONES USED TO BE IN ALMOST EVERY MUSIC VIDEO. In 2008 alone, they were featured in music videos by Lady Gaga, Ludacris, Pussycat Dolls, The Game, Snoop Dogg, Solange, Busta Rhymes & Linkin Park. The company was sold to Apple for $3 billion.

Complex / Time 

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