A beer and a movie go very well together. However, unlike the amusement derived from spotting fictional beers in movies, the opposite can be said for the appearance of real beer brands on the big screen. Product placement is a lucrative business in films and beer companies are eagerly waiting to throw cash at film-makers willing to feature their brands.
As with all movie product placements, it’s only a problem when you actually notice it. When a camera lingers too long over a beer label or a character strays from the plot and starts extolling the virtues of his favorite beer, it becomes an irritating distraction. While we don’t expect every movie to avoid any depiction of real-world brands, there is no place for some of the naked advertising that manages to get included in movies.
We’ve assembled a collection of the 10 worst examples of the practice. These are the most blatant, shameless product placements for beer that you’re likely to see. Prepare yourself for cringe-inducing dialog, bad acting and some thinly-veiled commercials masquerading as feature films.
Shameless placement #1: Spider-Man – Carlsberg
Product placements don’t get much more blatant than in Spider-Man. Carlsberg makes an appearance in the form of a branded truck providing a ride to our masked buddy as he careens down a city street. Naturally, the Carlsberg logo is lit up and visible from the perfect angle – so much so that it almost looks like a commercial when taken out of context.
Watch the clip below, but hold your breath as you suffer through an even more obvious placement for Dr. Pepper beforehand.
Shameless placement #2: Urban Cowboy – Lone Star
Urban Cowboy was a prime target for beer product placement, considering the movie’s setting and theme.
John Travolta, wearing a Stetson and belt buckle is seen in the movie (and the movie poster!) holding a long neck bottle of Lone Star beer. Dubbed the ‘national beer of Texas’, it’s currently owned by the Pabst brewing company.
John Travolta concentrating hard to sure he doesn’t obscure the label on his beer.Fun fact:
Whatever about the impact on Lone Star sales, there was a huge soar in popularity for mechanical bulls following the prime billing they received in this movie.
Shameless placement #3: James Bond – Heineken
Fans of the James Bond movies have come to expect unprecedented levels of in-your-face product placement, but some controversy was stirred up when Heineken announced a product placement partnership with the franchise. Always known for his refined taste in liquor, the introduction of beer marked a new direction for 007. The Heineken placement began in Casino Royale and continued more recently in The Quantum of Solace. As with most big-movie product placements, Heineken have created Bond-themed advertising and promotions to get the most Bond for their buck.
Here’s a clip of a Heineken commercial featuring Casino Royale Bond girl Eva Green. Or is it a clip of Casino Royale featuring Heineken? It’s hard to tell.
Shameless placement #4: The Deer Hunter – Rolling Rock
When you think of the cinema classic, The Deer Hunter, you may not automatically think of product placements. But, here’s another example of where the influence of marketing makes the movie dialog sound forced and contrived. Rolling Rock must have been ecstatic to have an actor such as Robert De Niro make several references to their beer, including the ultimate line, “I’ll get you a Rolling Rock; it’s a good beer; it’s the best around”.
Interestingly, we don’t get much attention paid to Rolling Rock bottles or logo, but when the dialog is this obvious and complimentary, there’s hardly any need.
Shameless placement #5: E.T. – Coors
E.T. famously boosted the sales of Reese’s Pieces after they were featured in the movie. But they weren’t the only product to benefit from inclusion in this classic film. Remember the scene where E.T. spends an afternoon in his bathrobe getting drunk and watching TV? Well, he was drinking Coors beer – if you watch carefully, you can catch the brand on the cans as he chugs them back.
Check out the beer at the 5min 56sec mark below:
Shameless placement #6: Ice Cold in Alex – Carlsberg
This entry is a little different from the rest. For a start, Ice Cold in Alex is the oldest movie in our list, from 1958. Back then, paid product placement in movies was relatively rare. However, there is one iconic scene in the film that gives a strong spotlight to a particular Danish beer.
The scene in question features the renowned actor, John Mills, downing a glass of Carlsberg at the end of their epic journey. A method actor, Mills shot the scene drinking real beer for authenticity. It apparently took 14 takes to get the perfect shot (below), so his demeanor was somewhat inebriated by then!
It’s probably the singular scene in our list where the beer doesn’t spoil the proceedings with its presence. As far as we know, Carlsberg didn’t pay any money to be featured in the film, but rather the producers wanted to add an element of realism. In an interesting turn of events, Carlsberg reused the exact same scene 40 years later for a TV commercial. This is one to watch and enjoy:
Shameless placement #7: Bad Boys II – Miller
A wild car chase scene in Bad Boys II gets the product placement out of the way before the action heats up. In this movie, the director opts for a gentle drive-by shot of a Miller Genuine Draft truck – nice and slow for maximum effect.
Take a look below:
Shameless placement #8: The Island – Michelob Light
If this article was not limited to beer, we could have filled the entire list with examples from The Island. It puts the James Bond franchise to shame with its non-stop litany of jarring, blatant product placement. We’re treated to everything from Nokia to MSN Search to Puma to Aquafina to Xbox (and more).
But, to the beer! In a pivotal scene, when Ewan McGregor meets his double, we are treated to a slow and steady beauty shot of a bottle of Michelob Ultra, sitting atop the kitchen counter, followed by the obligatory swig from McGregor himself. In the clip below, move forward to 4mins, 40secs for the perfectly crafted advertisement:
Shameless placement #9: Scary Movie 2 – Coors Light
Apparently, Coors signed a deal with Miramax in 2002 that copper-fastened their beer’s inclusion in a slew of motion pictures. One of the movies that ‘benefited’ from the deal was Scary Movie 2. It features a scene with the Coors Light Twins, that for all intents and purposes may as well be a tightly choreographed TV commercial. Notice the endearing attention to detail, such as how everyone is holding their bottle of Coors Light with the label facing the camera.
To be sure, comedy movies – and especially the satires – have more forgiving viewers when it comes to product placements. After all, the plotlines are allowed to be silly. We’ll let you decide if this clip falls in the silly or the shameless category…
Shameless placement #10: Fallen – Budweiser
According to BrandChannel.com, Budweiser has appeared in more big budget films in recent years than any other beer. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering their sizeable marketing muscle. So, to round off our list, we’ve picked one of the most contrived, ill-fitting product placements of all.
The movie Fallen is a mediocre cop drama from 1998. There’s a segment in the movie that sounds like it was written by a junior marketing executive from Anheuser-Busch. It certainly has no bearing on the movie and sticks out like a sore thumb. You can bet James Gandolfini was happy to hide behind a fake moustache as he spouted out the painful dialog name-checking Bud, Bud Light and Bud Dry.
The scene in question is truly staggering in its obvious plug for Budweiser; it’s hard to believe actors of this caliber were obliged to participate. Watch the offending scene below:
Have you any beer product placements in movies to add to this hall of shame? Do product placements influence your beer-buying behavior? Leave a comment and let us know!