5 Great Moments In Cinematic Product Placement
This weekend, the New York Times took a look at the system of product placement that keep the pockets of your favorite Hollywood studio lined with beautiful, beautiful cash by loading up its films -- both of the blockbuster and modestly budgeted varieties-- with enough strategically positioned Quarter Pounders to stop the hearts of an entire location shoot's worth of Lipitor-gobbling Teamsters. Though it's recently become fashionable to decry the despoilment of an allegedly once-pristine art by greedy tie-ins, this kind of promotional consideration is not a new phenomenon, with deep-pocketed patrons emerging in the nick of time to help bridge the budgetary gaps in some of our most beloved movies. In the interest of celebrating a much-derided and misunderstood craft, Movieline takes a look back at the greatest moments in cinematic product placement.
The Godfather (1972)
To support Francis Ford Coppola's grand -- and, quite frankly, extravagant -- vision for his Oscar-winning mobster epic, producers needed to get creative to make the project financially feasible. Two of the film's most iconic scenes were supported by skillfully executed product placement. As originally shot, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli," was, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli. They're from Dominic's Pastries on Arthur Avenue, so f*cking delicious," with Coppola eventually insisting on looping out the mention during ADR. And the severed head of racehorse Khartoum that Jack Woltz found nestled in his bed was provided by Pucci Taxidermy in Hoboken, New Jersey, in exchange for an end credits title card and a Tonight Show shout-out by the director during his publicity tour.
After director Roman Polanksi appears in a cameo to slice open a "very nosy" Jake Gittes' proboscis as a warning to the tenacious detective, a Band-Aid adhesive bandage holds the wound closed for the duration of the film. The brand is identified in a conspicuous close-up shot of the Band-Aid box sitting on Gittes' desk when he returns to his office after the gruesome nostril laceration, though the private dick never mentions the manufacturer by name.
Say Anything (1989)
When hopelessly tenacious romantic Lloyd Dobler suddenly appeared under out-of-his-league love interest Diane Court's window brandishing a boombox playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" in an attempt to woo back his elusive dream girl, a generation of teenage girls were ruined for America's less imaginative male suitors. And the nation's electronic stores couldn't keep the JVC RC-M90 in stock, as a flood of smitten copycats bought up every available shoulder-mounted, single-cassette player like the one Cusack's legendary underdog used to express his overpowering feelings.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
In Miramax's heyday of independent film dominance, studio-running brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein knew how to keep their costs down to wring every possible dollar out of a production. As compromised boxer Butch Coolidge considers the increasingly intimidating weapons available to him at Maynard's pawn shop, he briefly considers the Black and Decker Cordless Chainsaw before choosing the samurai sword he'd use to liberate Marsellus Wallace from his sodomy-happy captors. Additionally, the red ball-gag used to keep Marsellus from attracting attention during his harrowing ordeal was provided by mail-order marital aid concern Adam & Eve.
Not content to merely change the game with his ground-breaking, immersive 3-D visuals, visionary director James Cameron also took the product placement game to the next level in the highest-grossing film of all time. As anyone who's sat through the sci-fi epic even one time can tell you, Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine's 10-foot-tall avatar was outfitted in a perfectly fitted Stanford tank top and cargo shorts, custom-tailored wardrobe provided to the production by The Gap. Though the company itself is not named in the theatrical release, the forthcoming Blu-Ray edition will feature a deleted scene in which Augustine and new recruit Jake Sully spend an afternoon browsing the racks of the Pandoran Outlet Mall on the military base, modeling a variety of Gap-branded casualwear that will help him more comfortably navigate life on the distant, surprisingly fashion-forward planet.