Law of Movie Brand Loyalty:
Thanks to Product Placement, all characters in a movie, no matter how heterogeneous or geographically dispersed, drink one brand of beer, use one brand of sporting equipment, drive cars produced by one company, etc.
...Or a Chevy. Or a Chrysler. Or a whatever... Apparently no other automobile manufacturer exists.
In many shows, all the automobiles visible on screen (or at least in the foreground) are provided by a single manufacturer, usually as a Product Placement
deal. In exchange for such a lucrative freebie, the manufacturer usually demands that no competing vehicles appear in the program, and the producers happily comply.
In addition, all characters own brand new late model cars, no matter their income level
This can also apply to other reasonably-expensive household items; personal computers, for instance.
Note that owning a Ford is not a bad thing per se
, unless it's a Pinto
For a similar trope not necessarily a result of paid for product placement of computers, we observe that Everyone Owns a Mac
- Kojak - Every living soul drove a Ford, and there'd be pileups filled with nothing but Fords.
- Chevrolet was one of the original sponsors of Bewitched, and subsequently almost every car visible on the show for the first six seasons was a Chevy. (And, reportedly, the show's theme music was a minor variation on the jingle being used by Chevrolet at the time!)
- Likewise My Three Sons; in some seasons, the closing credits run over stock footage of then-new Chevys on the open road.
- This was spoofed in Superstar, in which every car that is seen throughout the entire movie is a lime-green Volkswagen Beetle.
- All the computerized cars (except that crazy twin motorcycle thing) in Team Knight Rider were Fords, thanks to a generous deal made with the producers. This alienated a number of original fans, who were also Pontiac fans.
- Ford made them another deal for the 2008 Pilot Movie. There was a five part ad for their new in-car computer system running throughout, the new KITT is an excuse to show off the new Shelby Mustang, and every car used by good guys and bad is a shiny Ford product.
- The Hawaii Five-0 remake series takes this to a hilarious extent with Chevrolets. Hawaii is populated entirely by Chevrolet drivers, apparently, and even fabulously wealthy foreign criminals drive American. Even the old junkers that get wrecked every single episode are Chevrolets!
- In the original it was Ford Motor Company. McGarrett drove a tricked-out Mercury, the rest of the cast drove full-sized Fords.
- I Dream of Jeannie, Pontiacs.
- NASA in Real Life during the early days. A clever local dealer (presumably with some help from GM) practically gave away Chevrolets to anyone who might end up in the news. Astronauts, nearly universally, ended up with brand new Corvettes for essentially nothing.
- Mister Ed, Studebakers.
- In American Dreams, the older brother returns from Vietnam and the dad gives him a new Mustang. That's very period, since this is supposed to be take place in the year the Mustang came out, and it was a must have for young men right from the beginning. But this one looked weird. And as the lighting came up, it was revealed as a brand new current model, not the original, an anachronistic example of product placement. This was echoed by the next commercial, which showed a young man returning from Iraq getting the same model from his father. The message seemed to be that once again, a generation of brave boys deserves our product.
- That same season, there was an episode of Alias in which Sydney yells "quick — to the F-150!"
- A fifth season episode features Jack commenting on the quietness of a new Ford.
- Jericho: Chevy seemed to be the only brand working After the End with possible exception of Jake's deliberately vague muscle car.
- It was a Plymouth Satellite, but all the badging was stripped off. It was probably just the cheapest 'muscle car' looking vehicle they could find — it was crashed barely fifteen minutes into the show. Background cars tended to be a fairly random grab-bag, but the heroes did drive a lot of GM.
- In Heroes Everybody Owns a Nissan — most prominently the Nissan Versa that Hiro and Ando rented, which they refer to conspicuously and which appears as a front-page advertisement in the downloadable comic series. The season 2 premiere has a 5 minute sequence where the cute cheerleader Claire is given a brand-new Nissan Rogue for her birthday. Way to keep inconspicuous, Mr. Bennet; yes, you could certainly afford that on a copy jockey's salary.
- The show had some fun with this by having the Rogue stolen the very next episode. A few more episodes later and the Rogue is seen smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico to America.
- In 2007's Transformers movie, almost all the Autobots transform into GM products (the sole exception being Optimus Prime, for aesthetic reasons). A Decepticon transforms into a Ford, most of the rest into military hardware. Makes sense, since it is a franchise that came into existence purely to sell toys. If there wasn't Product Placement, it wouldn't be Transformers.
- Granted, part of this is because Michael Bay cut a deal with GM Motors to use their vehicles in order to save on the budget.
- Fans of the classic Transformers were initially upset that Bumblebee wasn't a Volkswagen Beetle like he was in the cartoon. However, this is because VW refuses to allow their cars to be used as weapons in media, attempting to downplay the fact that the company once manufactured vehicles for Nazi Germany. The director also expressed concern that the mostly silent Bumblebee would be mistaken for Disney's Herbie.
- The team on Dog The Bounty Hunter are always seen driving Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac SUV's while hunting bail jumpers, and Leland bought an H2 Hummer in one episode.
- The I, Robot movie, where everybody drives an Audi. Futuristic Audis with spherical wheels, but still Audis.
- In Tomb Raider Legend, all cars are Jeeps, the bad guys get black Commanders, and one of Lara's allies gets a yellow Wrangler. All bikes are Ducatis. All the vehicles have very detailed texture maps from photos of the real deal, and nary a dirt spot or scratch on them.
- Not to mention the film series' aggressive use of Range Rover.
- Iron Man is chock full of Audis.
- Most Clive Owen films made this century feature him driving BMWs. This can be traced back to his role as the mysterious Driver in The Hire, a series of shorts made by... guess who? BMW.
- Ironically, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes this same assumption with Ford Prefect, one of the main characters whose alias is a joke based on this, and lost on most of the book's modern readership.
- Most likely because in a world of Zaphods and Trillians, Ford is a downright ordinary first name, and the Prefect isn't exactly a familiar model nowadays.
- The joke was also lost on US audiences, where the Prefect was sold in tiny numbers as a specialty import in The Fifties. The French translators changed the name to "Ford Escort" to preserve the joke.
- The Thunderbirds movie went so far as to replace Lady Penelope's trademark pink Rolls Royce with a futuristic pink Ford. That the movie featured very blatant (and painful) Ford product placement throughout was bad enough...
- In Mad Max, All Bikers Are Hells Angels... and ride Kawasakis.
- All of the cars in The Matrix Reloaded were made by General Motors. The underground garage that the heroes get their car from is populated entirely by Cadillacs.
- Except that one old BMW that's nearly broken in half by the twins crashing into it with their (GM) car. Predictably, theirs doesn't even get a scratch.
- Starting with Die Another Day, the James Bond producers signed Ford up as their primary vehicular sponsor and as a result, pretty much everything on screen is a Ford brand. James Bond in his Aston Martin Vanquish fights Zao in his Jaguar XKR. Meanwhile, Jinx rolls up to the big gala event in her Ford Thunderbird as Gustav Graves gets chauffeured around in a Range Rover. It was kept into the reboot, but not as noticably.
- Note way back with Goldfinger, nearly everybody owns a Ford - Tilly Masterson drives a Mustang, the CIA guys drive a Thunderbird, the US government uses Continentals, Oddjob drives a Country Squire, a Continental, and a Ranchero to haul said Continental when it's been cubed.
- And in Live and Let Die, the entire film was sponsored by Chevrolet. Jarringly, with the exception of taxis (which were still almost exclusively Checkers, which used Chevy engines) and the two pimpmobiles, every vehicle in New York seems to be a Chevy.
- It helped that James Bond has a long association with Aston Martins, leading to a Mythology Gag in Casino Royale when Bond wins one in a poker game off of one of the villains. Of course, in Quantum Of Solace he had switched to Range Rovers, though it would admittedly be weird to see him driving across the Bolivian desert in a British sports car.
- NCIS has the main team use an ever changing set of Dodge vehicles throughout the seasons. Seasons 1 and 2 has the Intrepid, Season three onward had the Charger, while between them was the Stratus. Slightly averted in the fact that the character's personal cars are a wide range of makes, from a Ford Mustang to an old Morgan.
- All the tour vehicles in the film Jurassic Park are Ford Explorers.
- In the book, the vehicles are Toyota Land Cruisers, which is justified as the park is being bankrolled by Japanese investors. Steven Spielberg decided to change them to Explorers in the film because he owned one at the time which he really enjoyed, so he allowed the Ford Explorer product placement as a "thank you" to Ford.
- In the live-action film version of The Cat In The Hat, everybody drives a yellow or lime-green Ford Focus hatchback... except the mother's boyfriend, who drives a yellow Thunderbird. In fairness, they do both sort of mesh with the set design, and VW Beetles might have been just too obvious.
- In School of Rock, all the parents' cars are Volvos. Probably done for laughs, not Product Placement, unless Volvo itself has a sense of humor about its stereotypical owners.
- '70s Charlie's Angels all drove Fords, including the orange Pinto, which, ironically, was probably the only car on set not to explode.
- On Route 66, both the lead characters and an inordinate number of guest stars drive Chevrolet Corvettes.
- All vehicles (parked in the parking lot or being given away as casino prizes) in Rainbow Six: Vegas are Dodge.
- In Twister, everyone owns a Chrysler Corp. brand.
- In 24, the heroic characters all drove Fords while the villains had various other brands. This was so egregious that it actually spoiled a plot point: In Season 2, the young, somewhat mysterious Arab man drives a Ford Thunderbird while his blonde, all-American wife drives an import. Take a guess who was revealed as the mole?
- Demolition Man takes this a bit further. The movie is set in the 2030's and all of the cars are General Motors concept cars. This included some cars from Pontiac and Oldsmobile, neither of which survived to the movie's setting.
- Drowning Mona both justifies and plays with this trope. Before the movie starts, a blurb comes up noting that the town of Verplanck was the testbed for a new Yugo model. During the movie, every car seen is a Yugo. There's even a Yugo car chase...where one Yugo requires a push-start...
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was sponsored by Chrysler to showcase their 1963 lineup. As such, all the main characters drive Chryslers.
- Bollywood film Ra.One is partly an advertisement for the new Volkswagen cars, though high-end cars are more prominent- notably, the Touareg and the new Beetle. Unusually, all the cars are right-hand drive, for the Indian market, but all drive on the right lane on American roads, opposed to the left lane in India.
- Jackie Chan was for many years sponsored by Mitsubishi, and always drove a Mitsubishi in his movies.
- The main characters in the Bones universe own Toyotas, from the FBI provided Sequoia, to Dr. Brennan's Prius and Angela's Sienna and Matrix. They often take a moment to highlight whichever vehicle they happen to be featuring that week, mentioning the Prius's self parking capabilities and the Sienna's spacious interior. Booth's Sequoia raises a little Fridge Logic when you remember that the US government is legally required to buy American only, and indeed in earlier seasons he drove a Chevy instead.
- White Collar is chock-full of Fords whose high-tech features such as self-parking or vibrating seats must be demonstrated to the audience in great detail.
- Nissan cars are prominent in the second season of Desperate Housewives. One episode led in from a commercial break with a gratuitous close-up of the Nissan logo.
- Game developers cannot simply contact manufacturer X, pay some money and implement the cars in their game. There always seems to be a hidden clause if you deal with major manufacturers. Naturally the best way to circumvent this is to simply make up your own cars.
- It is very clear that Audi only does package deals: when a game has an Audi in it, you get a lot of different Audis. The worst examples are the normal Audi A4 (not even RS 4) in Need for Speed Most Wanted and the S4 convertible in Test Drive Unlimited, a game supposedly about supercars.
- Test Drive Unlimited isn't just supercars, it also has average cars and luxury cars (like the A4).
- It seems manufacturers exert pressure on game developers to adjust the ranking of the cars to their wishes. The Audi R8 is considered a "class A" supercar in both Need for Speed Carbon (where it is the end boss car, despite you driving a Porsche Carrera GT at this point) and Undercover. Needless to say, it fails to live up to expectations. The same applies to the Nissan GTR, which is mysteriously considered a competitor to a Veyron in Undercover and is used by the city's 'elite' police force despite being pretty much an evolution of the Skyline.
- The Lamborghini Murciélago is always in a faster class than the Gallardo even though the two are comparable in RL if you get one of the special editions of the Gallardo. The ingame result is that the Gallardo destroys cars in its class and the Murc is often too slow in its faster class to compete. Examples: NFS Most Wanted, Test Drive Unlimited.
- In racing games there are often cars no sane person would choose to race with because they are obviously useless at it or just too expensive for their performance. This is because the developers have to pay, say, Ferrari for the rights to implement their cars and crash them. Meanwhile manufacturers of cars the audience might actually buy will pay the developers for product placement. So you end up with cars like the Cadillac and various Mercedes vehicles in NFS Most Wanted, the four-door Hyundai in NFS Underground 2, the three different Lexus cars in the DLC for Test Drive Unlimited, the ubiquitous Camaro and Challenger prototypes in NFS Carbon, NFS Pro Street and GRID, that bizarre Chevrolet convertible pickup thing in Test Drive Unlimited, ...
- Blur is a case of Everybody Owns An American Car. 27 of the 59 cars (not counting alternate liveries) are American, compared to 14 from Germany (BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Opel), 7 from Japan (Nissan, Toyota), 5 from Britain (Rover, Lotus, Vauxhall), 5 from France (Renault, Citroen) and the Swedish Koenigsegg CCX-R.
- There are 12 Ford models. Racing-tuned Focuses (Foci?) and Mustangs, that's believable. But then, there are also several heavier Ford vehicles, including several pickup models and a van with an F1 engine. Chevrolet is the next highest, with 7 models, most of them variants of the Camaro. Third most, 6 from Dodge.
- Of note, many car companies that pay for the Product Placement also seem to include a 'no damage' clause. If there's a racing game that features a specific manufacturer, there's a pretty good chance that those cars will never show damage. You can drive into a wall going 100 mph, and that car will still look brand new. Can't have your advertising goods looking sloppy now. Want to actually crash cars in your game? Then you have to pay. EA had to do so in order to have a damage model in the squad cars of Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Carbon, where the medium and top tier police cars are the Pontiac GTO and the Chevrolet Corvette.
- This is slowly changing, with games like Grid, Gran Turismo, and Forza Motorsport featuring and even advertising damage physics to licensed cars.