Companies pay big bucks for Product Placement
, and popular media certainly appreciate the value of this cash cow. So much so that when products or corporate logos turn up incidentally in TV programming without having paid the requisite dues, they will be censored.
This mostly occurs in non-fiction programming, like News Broadcasts
, where the producer has little control over the people and the environment, or Reality Shows
. If an interviewee for a documentary is wearing a T-shirt with the Nike swoosh, break out the Pixellation
. Before the development of digital image processing, stagehands handled this by covering labels on bottles, cans or boxes with masking tape or paper strips. This process, called "greeking," is still quite common, as masking tape is a lot cheaper than making the blurred area track the motion of the naughty brand name. Keep in mind, they did (and still do) "greek" clothing or other logos on people's shirts, too (often during spontaneous gonzo segments on nonfiction shows), and it's not very comfortable.
Compare Writing Around Trademarks
and Brand X
. Can also be considered a visual form of Smurfing
or a Censor Box
Anime and Manga
- Old movies and TV shows bearing Vanity Plates with dated bylines might have these plastered over with the current studio logos in newer prints. (eg, The United Artists "Transamerica T" has become impossible to find compared to logos that read, "United Artists: An MGM Company.")
- Code Geass prominently featured Product Placement for sponsor Pizza Hut... well, it did in the original. Pizza Hut was airbrushed out of the American broadcast. Apparently, the US division of Pizza Hut didn't want to support a show starring a Well-Intentioned Extremist terrorist.
- Darker than Black: Pizza Hut featured prominently in the original broadcast but was removed for the English version.
- British Airways has received criticism for how, in its in-flight version of the James Bond flick Casino Royale, they have edited out the cameo of rival Richard Branson and obscured the tail-fin of one of Branson's Virgin Atlantic planes.
- Grease boasts blurred-out Coca-Cola signs in the diner scene. Sponsor Pepsi demanded that Paramount either censor the references to their competitor, or reshoot the diner scene, and the studio opted for the cheaper and quicker of the two options. It's particularly noticeable in one scene in which two characters are conversing in front of a rather large Coke ad.
- The print used for "Sing-Along" theatrical re-releases starting in 2010 covers that ad with a pattern matching the rest of the diner wall.
- Coca-Cola and Mercedes declared their names and logos off-limits from the movie Slumdog Millionaire because they did not want to be associated with the Mumbai slum colony known as Dharavi (Coca-Cola in particular objected to the use of the logo before a dumping ground).
- MythBusters does this all the time, either blurring the logo or covering it with one proclaiming the product to be "Mythbusters Brand". "Diet Coke and Mentos explosion" is a notable aversion, likely since those two particular brand names are intrinsic to the meme.
- The European edit of the show actually uses the terms mints, sweets and candy. Mentos is never mentioned and the myth is called "Cola Cascade".
- Subverted in "Superhero Special," in which Adam makes a reference to "Nocturnal Echolocating Flying Mammal Man."
What, you mean Batman
- Got a little ridiculous when the Science Channel picked up the show as they censor everyone's shirts.
- As a publicly funded body, the BBC is forbidden to advertise or give undue prominence to any brand, so any time a branded product is mentioned the phrase "other brands/services are available" will often follow. DJs and presenters often lampshade this. It's most obvious when a brand name has passed into everyday language: children's TV show Blue Peter tells kids to use "sticky tape" or "sticky-back plastic". But apparently, the BBC has since declared "sellotape" sufficiently genericised to be used.
- David Tennant blocked out the "Converse All-Star" logos on his trainers when he wore them on Doctor Who.
- Though Top Gear is exempt from this when referring to cars, a Top Gear-branded satnav was judged to have conflicting interests and discontinued, even though it was never mentioned on the show.
- In 2005, an episode of Spooks had to be pulled for a rapid re-edit because an Apple logo was too prominent on a character's laptop.
- Lampshaded and stomped on in one episode of Mrs. Brown's Boys. Agnes asks why there's black tape on the cellphone box Buster is seen carrying and he replies that it's due to BBC advertising rules. Agnes nods understandingly, then points out that from the shape of the box it's clearly an iPhone 4.
- A lot of Korean Drama has this:
- The cars in You Are Beautiful are current model Audi's with duct tape over the grill logo. Also certain brands are pixelated in the shopping mall and on clothing.
- In Oh My Lady the car logos are also covered.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation often features rather masterfully done props featuring fake brand names.
- Good Eats frequently refers to products with trademarked names without mentioning the names themselves (for instance, Alton Brown won't use the name of a chocolate-marshmallow cookie while a picture of the moon and a pie appear behind him), or brand-name products are parodied (like "B2 Steak Sauce). In the behind-the-scenes episode, Alton even explains the process of "greeking". Occasionally inverted in scenes at actual grocery markets, where not only are actual brand names not obscured, but the actual grocery market's name and location is proudly displayed via pop-up titles (namely, Kroger chain stores in Alton's hometown of Atlanta).
- An episode of Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover" set in Dublin, Ireland featured Guinness prominently, as any visit to Dublin by a heavy drinker must, but since they wouldn't pay to be a sponsor, the Travel Channel required Bourdain not to mention the beverage by name and even to obscure the logo when it was being poured. Bourdain being Bourdain, he pointed out the utter ridiculousness of this even as he mentioned "the black stuff." He also made sure to include a couple of incidental Dubliners saying the name, too (apparently that was okay).
- The British game show Supermarket Sweep used to do this with all the products on the set (a fake supermarket). The credits at the end of the show would include the line "Products supplied by Somerfield".
- Canadian show Trailer Park Boys does this to pretty much every brand name on-screen.
- The montage at the end of the first episode of New Amsterdam showed Times Square change over the years, but with all the branding replaced with generic products. Apparently, Mom's Homemade Pies could afford large billboard space during the 1940s.
- An odd case on an episode of Live & Kicking: the Spice Girls were appearing, and Mel C was wearing a Liverpool shirt. Perhaps realising someone going around with a Carlsberg logo across their chest on kid's TV was a bad idea, it got covered up with a Live & Kicking sticker mid-show.
- Some reruns and many DVD releases of certain TV shows replace them with generic tunes to avoid paying royalties, two of the more infamous examples being WKRP in Cincinnati, and Happy Days on DVD from Season Two on.
- In the TV show Veronica Mars, a popular orange soda brand is replaced with the fictional "Skist" using similar colors and design.
- Veronica Mars also endlessly covers up the Apple logos on various computers with flowers, pencils, ect.
- Justified in FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, as Ruff's ego ensures that nearly every product will have a picture of him on it. (Even lampshaded on one occasion.)
- Lampshaded on James May's Toy Stories. While scouting the circuit for his attempt to build a Scalextric replica of a racing track which had been partly replaced by buildings, May visited the headquarters of Sony to see if they'd let him run the track through there. May introduced the company to the viewers as 'that company that rhymes with bony', and later referred to it as a soap company.
- He also ran into this in the Ireland episode of Oz And James. So they don't say "Guinness" too much when referring to the Irish staple stout, they fine themselves five Euros every time they say the name by accident.
- Both Ace Of Cakes and (in earlier episodes) Cake Boss are forbidden from saying "Rice Krispies Treats", even though it's a very well-used "construction material".
- An Ace cake that featured a Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel and bottle was blurred out and not shown in close-up, respectively, despite the obviously elaborate piping that went into the label. Ironically, the cake was a huge honor for Duff, as the group that ordered it is considered "the foodies of foodies" and only gets food from established chefs or notable up-and-comers.
- The Verizon store sign to the right of the Cake Boss bakery is always blurred out, but I like to think it's because it clashes with the old-fashioned, elaborate signs of the bakery and the flower shop(?) to its left.
- Stand-up comedian Patrice Oneal had a bit in his Comedy Central special about the initial presumption by the media that the Washington D.C. sniper was a white man, the punchline of which was "...downgraded to 'nigga in a Buick.'" The network cut out the word "Buick" because the parent company didn't want the name Buick associated with the news story.
- Normally averted by the copious amounts of product placement on The Wire, it is played straight in the opening of season four when Snoop buys Chekhov's nail gun from obvious Home Depot stand-in "Hardware Barn."
- In an episode of Change The Day You Die, one of the people wore a sleeveless top with the sports logo blurred out.
- Frequently happened in the French talk-show C'est mon choix.
- I Love Lucy originally contained several references to Philip Morris cigarettes, who sponsored the first four seasons. When Philip Morris ceased sponsorship, old episodes had the references removed for syndication (eg, a scene in which Lucy dressed as Johnny Roventini, the Philip Morris bellhop, lost lines in which Lucy mentioned the brand by name).
- The original opening credits, featuring cartoon versions of Lucy and Ricky and a giant Philip Morris cigarette pack, were also removed for most of its syndication run for the same reason. These were eventually restored by T V Land, with their network logo replacing the cigarettes.
- A show called Playhouse 90 ran in The Fifties - one episode dealt with discussion of the Nuremburg trials. At the sponsor's request, all references to Nazi gas chambers were removed - the sponsor was the American Gas Company.
- Deadliest Catch: Occasionally things are blurred-out or taped over so badly that it almost seems like a Running Gag:
- Two hilarious examples occurred on the last two shows in 2011: When Scott Hillstrand was looking at photos of his son they blurred out the Batman logo despite it being really obvious who the kid was dressed as (it was Halloween); a scene in the Wizard's (I think) kitchen had a cereal box directly behind someone's head, as if to highlight how poorly the box was taped over (imagine two thin lines going through "Cap'N Crunch").
- Zig-zagged by Canada's Worst Driver: the cars used for challenges are frequently identified by manufacturer and model (and in the case of classic cars, often by model year as well), but other brand identifiers are blurred out (a cup of chili from a Wendy's in season 7, for instance).
- Used inconsistently on at least one segment of Sandra Lee's shows on Food Network. A tub of Cool Whip had its logo blurred out the first time it appeared, yet in another shot, the editors didn't even bother.
- The original Knight Rider was forced into this by General Motors/Pontiac, who declared the names Pontiac, Firebird and Trans Am off limits. This is largely the cause of KITT supporting a rival company in the final season by praising Henry Ford's choice of colour.
- Indian youth channel [V]'s mystery-drama 'Best Friends Forever?' features two instances - Pikipedia and Jo-Jo Pizza (for local chain Smokin' Joes).
- The Rangers' Volkswagen microbus in Power Rangers Ninja Storm has had the VW logo removed.#
- One episode of That Puppet Game Show involved Ian offering Eddie a chocolate bar, which just said "Chocolate" on the wrapper. The weird part was that the wrapper was purple and the word was written in a swirly handwriting font, so it looked almost exactly like a Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar.
- Lots of hip-hop videos in The Nineties were full of shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia that had to get their logos blurred out. It still happens on occasion, Pharrell Williams' sneakers are blurred out in Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (especially odd because there's a close-up of them at the line "See these Ice Creams").
- Since rappers are prone to Product Placement in their lyrics, this can even extend to bleeping those names, with hilarious results. Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" edited the line "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom" by bleeping out "Burger King" rather loudly and with a standard bleep normally reserved for obscene language. Incidentally, the sexually suggestive lines — such as "I'm still gettin' in the girls' pants" and "In a 69, my Humpty nose will tickle your rear" — had "girls' pants," "69", and "rear" bleeped out with wacky sound effects, such as car horns, record scratching, and a woman's scream.
- Another music video example would be Beck's stormtrooper helmet being blurred out in the "Loser" video. Oddly, a year or two later, Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" featured an unblurred T-shirt with a Stormtrooper helmet on it.
- The Kinks' 1970 hit "Lola", as it appears on the album Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, includes the line "Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola". This was changed to "cherry cola" for the single release to appease the BBC.
- And it happened again when Robbie Williams covered it in the live-lounge. They later sold that cover in a live-lounge album too.
- The Eurovision Song Contest forbids songs from containing political gestures or references to brand names. Only one song has gotten into trouble with this rule, San Marino's So Bad, It's Good song "Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh" (smartly re-named "The Social Network Song (Uh-oh, Uh, Oh, Oh)")
- Subverted in the songs used in the Dabangg movies from Bollywood- initially, Zandu Pharmaceuticals objected to the use of their brand Zandu Balm in a song sequence, but eventually, the song sequence ended up being a promotion for the brand. Consequently, Fevicol didn't try to complain.
- Played straight in another example from Bollywood- a satirical song that lists out scams in different organisations mentioned Czech multinational shoe giant Bata (who have a massive presence in India) and the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)- both were respectively replaced by Batate (Hindi for potatoes) and Beema (Hindi for insurance).
- Originally in Williams Electronics' Whirlwind, the boy on the backglass was drawn wearing a blue baseball cap with the Chicago Cubs' "C" logo on it. Soon after production started, however, Williams was informed that they could not use the logo. In response, stickers with the Williams' "W" were used to cover up the letter "C"; the artwork was later modified to use the Williams' "W" instead.
- Since the WWE lost a lawsuit to the World Wildlife Fund over the use of the "WWF" initials, new videos from old matches had the "WWF" logo digitally blurred or pixellated out for several years.
- WWE and the World Wildlife Fund reached a settlement in 2012 that allows WWE to use the "WWF" initials in old matches. As a result, the old WWF logo and the initials "WWF" are no longer censored in archival footage. In return, WWE agreed not to use the initials in any future programming; retro-themed shows now use a version of the classic logo altered to remove the "F".
- Mick Foley also relates an anecdote in his second book, Foley Is Good: and the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling, where WWE's director has him re-shoot a promo in a different location since there was an unnoticed Coke machine in the background, and Coke had just recently pulled their sponsorship of the show due to pressure from the Parents' Television Council.
- The radio version of the Amazing Rhythm Aces' song "Third Rate Romance" replaces the line "They went to the Holiday Inn" with "They went to the Family Inn".
- Tobacco companies were the main sponsor of several major Formula One teams (such as the Marlboro Ferraris, and British American Racing's Lucky Strike cars). But then, at the turn of the 21st century, many countries began to implement laws strictly banning tobacco advertising. In races where these laws were in effect, tobacco company logos had to be greeked from the cars. Due to these laws, tobacco companies have largely pulled out of F1 sponsorship. Even British American Racing, which was a joint venture between British American Tobacco (owners of the Lucky Strike brand, hence the free advertising) and Honda, got sold entirely to Honda as a result.
- Some teams got quite creative with this - Jordan's main sponsor was Benson & Hedges, and when they raced in countries with the anti-tobacco-ad rules they replaced the sponsor logo with Buzzin' Hornets, using the same typeface.
- An odd meta-example occurred in 2009: when Renault lost their sponsorship with ING over the Crashgate scandal, the team didn't have time to get everything replaced without the ING logo for the next race, so masking tape had been used on some surfaces to hide the logo. (Shirts, oddly, went unscathed.) As for the car itself, all the ING stickers were replaced by Renault stickers.
- For its NASCAR coverage, ESPN has a policy which basically states that companies can't get free promotion by simply holding the naming rights to a race, they also have to pay ESPN. If you don't, they'll use a generic title like "NASCAR Sprint Cup series at [location], telecast presented by GoDaddy.com". And this applies everywhere, on all graphics, voiceovers, even the ticker. Though, at least this practice also censored the ridiculous, long-winded sponsor title the Brickyard 400 got in 2013, Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard, powered by BigMachineRecords.com (They just called it "Brickyard 400, presented by Cracker Barrel")
- UFC shows lots of clips of their fighters competing in previous events before shows. Many are from much earlier events that were sponsored by companies no longer affiliated with the company, or from other organizations they either bought out or got permission from that had sponsors that have never been affiliated with them. Thus their pre-fight packages are often full of a lot of blurs around cageside and often fighter T-shirts.
- AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, has a giant Coke bottle behind third base; so does Turner Field in Atlanta, although theirs is smaller. Every baseball video game to feature these stadiums includes the bottle but either omits the Coke logo or substitutes with a fictitious one.
- Also done with the "Budweiser" roof plainly seen beyond the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field. That is either shown just as plain red, or with a different logo/color.
- Wave Race 64 had banners of the Kawasaki brand plastered all over the game, but due to the license agreement between them and Nintendo being expired after several years, Nintendo had to replace the ads with Nintendo DS and Wii logos when the game was rerelased on the Virtual Console.
- According to the DVD commentary for the season seven episode of The Simpsons "Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield" note , despite Marge being allowed to mention that she had on a Chanel dress (the Jackie-O inspired suit she found at an outlet store and the replacement one she bought at a Chanel boutique), the actual Chanel name couldn't be shown (which was why it was covered by Marge's hand and by a tree).
- This trope went into action after Cedar Fair acquired parks from Six Flags and Paramount's park division.
- Geauga Lake had to quickly remove its Six Flags WB/DC theming, as Six Flags has exclusive rights to Warner Bros and DC comics characters for their parks. All of the coasters had their names changed, and due to the sale being late in the off season, the former Batman coaster trains had their molded-in Batman logos melted with a soldering iron to remove them.
- The former Paramount Parks had temporary rights to the Paramount-owned brands, so the parks opened under their old names the first year, and by the next year the Paramount movie and TV-themed rides were given more generic themes. The Nickelodeon-themed kids' zones were moved over to Cedar Fair's Snoopy theming by the third year.
- The worst was Camp Snoopy when it became Park at MOA. The Snoopy-related theming was quickly removed after Cedar Fair stopped running the park, which led to some rides having Peanuts artwork quickly painted over. The sports bar had just the statues removed leaving a ball hanging in mid-air. The park has since become Nickelodeon Universe
- Disney Parks also has this happen when a ride sponsor contract is not renewed. Generally, it leads to parts of a ride having branded objects removed or de-tagged.
- The Carousel of Progress had to strip off its GE logos after the company dropped the contract to sponsor the ride. The large GE logos were removed or covered over with a blueprint logo sign, while the GE logos stayed on the appliances.