QOTD: Lamest Product Placement You've Seen?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd lamest product placement youve seen

The tedium of self-isolation reached depraved new depths this past weekend, as your author, finding himself all alone with nothing to do, took advantage of the government-imposed privacy to indulge in a shameful solo act. An occurrence that was sadly all too common in his teenage years.

That’s right — with the lights turned low and blinds drawn, yours truly engaged in something he’s not too proud of, and wouldn’t normally divulge to any other living soul. He watched a truly terrible movie… and didn’t turn it off.

No, not “so bad it was good,” nothing like that. This thing was a complete stinker — a colossal turdfest that only kept this writer’s interest because, among other things, it happened to be a commercial for General Motors.

Not an official one, obviously, but a clear — painfully clear — attempt to sway moviegoers’ buying decisions with targeted product placement.

Product placement is a marketing gimmick as old as time, and it’s capable of doing great things for the product featured within (think the second-gen Dodge Ram in Twister), but it can just as easily be a comically clunky effort that goes over like a raunchy joke at a funeral. And this turkey of a flick was indeed just that.

If you haven’t seen The Last Stand (2013), starring a former California Governor best known for saying “you’re fired” to a terrorist caught on a wingtip missile in a far better movie, please don’t waste your time. You’re likely to have more fun watching other unofficial GM commercials like Transformers, Transformers II, and, rolling back the years, Live and Let Die.

This flop (I’m told it broke even at the box office), which loitered in the studio vault for God knows how long before its release, centers around an escaped Mexican drug lord attempting to break back into his own country after eluding the combined might of the FBI (seen, laughably, escorting the imprisoned cartel boss to his date with the death chamber in a fleet of black, whining, first-gen Chevy Bolts). Only one still-bankable, Silverado-driving actor — playing the sheriff of a dusty Arizona border town — can stop him.

Did I mention the drug lord accomplishes his flight to the border in a C6 Corvette ZR1 (“Cyber Gray Metallic,” the spotter in the FBI chase copter relays, helpfully, to agents on the ground), with numerous shots of him downshifting even with the speedo pegged at 200 mph? It’s that kind of movie. It’s also worth noticing that, after taking cover in a wild firefight (that for some reason features Johnny Knoxville) behind a Chevy Sonic, our hero Arnie goes after El Chapo 2.0 in a borrowed Camaro SS, dueling with the wayward ZR1 in a cornfield on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Citizen Kane it ain’t.

The best product placement is subtle, followed up by the kind that at least doesn’t annoy the viewer. Then there’s the kind that hammers home the message with a sledgehammer, instilling a newfound disdain for the products on display.

Can you think of some truly awful movie product placements? Autos only, please.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Apr 23, 2020

    I was thinking the opposite on every episode of Mythbusters that involves a car; I think they cover (or remove) the logos to prevent the manufacturers from getting bad publicity when their vehicles are crashed, blown up, etc. (Or actual bad publicity, with the episode exploring the theory of the Porsche 928 being more aerodynamic in reverse.)

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 24, 2020

    I remember seeing a Chevrolet Metro in a Big Lots commercial. I'm not sure if it was product placement, though.

  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
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