When comedians have to deal with product placement, they have created some sarcastic and genuinely satirical approaches across film and TV. The to-the-camera product placement style of Wayne’s World was bold and new at the time and has been repeatedly mimicked and perfected over the years, allowing entertainers to shill and mock shilling at the same time.
Turning down a lot of cash is hard to do if you’re making a movie – see any Michael Bay film – but making product placement funny in a way that is not annoying or distracting is an art. Still, there are fans who balk. Why do we have to watch characters, actors, and hosts sell us anything? Soap operas were literally created to sell soap during daytime TV story plots for housewives to get hooked on. So it’s not like product placement had a noble start.
But it can still be done well, rewarding the audience rather than distracting us. Of all of the satirical product placement scenes on TV and film, which title stands out? Who nailed it when it came to selling products in movies and TV shows? Was the funny product placement subtle or was it in an Adam Sandler movie?
Your Brand is Not Worthy of Wayne’s World
As Wayne tells Rob Lowe’s character that he absolutely will not “bow to any sponsor,” he endorses product after product. The film’s point of view seemed to be, “Let’s just get all of this out of the way.”
And it worked. Audiences got to laugh at the seriousness with which Wayne and Garth complain about product placement while giving commercial-ready endorsements.
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle Because of Course They Do
White Castle knows its customers. And when they were approached about the film, they knew it was a potential gold mine. Diehard White Castlers already knew it was a mecca for the stoned fast food fans, but Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle introduced a whole new audience to it’s small, square craving-crushing goodness.
The whole point of the film was to end up at White Castle. Genius way to push a brand. White Castle didn’t pay for their funny product placement, the chain did promote the film with radio ads, signage, and collective cups.
The Brand Ballad of Talladega Nights
Nothing stands out more when it comes to funny product placement than the dinner table scene in Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby where Ricky Bobby covers a lot of products while saying his version of grace at a family dinner table piled high with recognizable fast food. The scene acknowledges the need for product placement while also staying true to the film’s tone.
The blooper reel of endorsements at the end of the film is not to be missed.
Back to the Future Part II Teases Us Big Time
Product placement: same as it ever was. Time travel allowed the franchise to play around with a lot of trends and brands. The first film simultaneously spoofed and enshrined the Delorean’s place in car history. The sequel predicted a future of hoverboards from Mattel and self-lacing Nikes.
Marty and Doc Brown called attention to the products but because of the nature of the films, it kind of made sense. The silliness of the future brands made it clear that Back to the Future‘s product placement was tongue in cheek.
The Office Makes Staples a Part of the Story
Staples is Dunder-Mifflin’s biggest competitor and it’s a natural fit into the plot line, the American version of The Office at least. The show had product placement deals with Hewlett Packard, Activision’s Call of Duty, and, of course, Staples. Staples products appeared in every episode and Dwight Schrute even worked at Staples for a brief stretch.
When he quit, Staples issued a hilarious memo stating that he no longer worked there and wasn’t eligible for rehire.