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Product Placement
"Nice of Wal-Mart to give us these Wal-Mart beverages in return for us saying Wal-Mart so many times."

Otherwise known as a "plug" or "writing commercials right into a show". The practice of prominently displaying or talking about a recognizable product in a program, in exchange for some consideration from the manufacturer, usually monetary. The manufacturer hopes to cause The Red Stapler effect, but it far more often results in snarky comments from the peanut gallery.

This trope isn't always invoked for mercenary reasons; many times it just wouldn't be plausible for a character in a shopping mall to walk past nothing but unnamed Brand X. Or a world set Twenty Minutes into the Future won't have suddenly lost the culture of billboard advertisements and product logos which defines the modern day. Real brands add veritas in these cases. Plus some filmmakers striving for as much realism as possible would rather use recognizable products than Brand X. On the other hand, even when it begins with the best intentions, contractual obligations to have the dialogue actually mention a placed product can easily turn malignant.

The least subtle version of this kind of embedded advertising is the Enforced Plug, which, in America, was common in early television (when the commercials literally were considered more important than the programming) and still is in radio.

With reruns, DVD and downloads, this can be the gift that keeps on giving for advertisers. After all, the commercials that aired on the original broadcast aren't retained in any of these. Product placement is, at least most of the time, though there have been instances of company logos being digitally blurred out for things such as television broadcasts of movies, if the sponsoring company didn't pay for the additional product placement in these broadcasts. It can also backfire in the case of a Twenty Minutes into the Future production that happens to feature a product or brand that in real life ceased to exist by the time the production was set (a prime example being Pan Am airlines, featured prominently in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which ceased to exist by the time the real 2001 rolled around).

One thing important to remember is that not all products visible in television, or film, are the result of product placement; sometimes background logos are unavoidable, or producers choose a product for other reasons, and there's no exchange of money with the manufacturer. Even so, some viewers find product placement to be more offensive than sex, violence or the Seven Dirty Words, to the point where parental movie review websites often make a point of singling out films with excessive (or, sometimes, simply any) recognizable brands or products.

For two particular examples, see Everybody Owns A Ford and its computer equivalent, Everyone Owns A Mac.

Compare Merchandise-Driven and Product Promotion Parade. Contrast with Brand X or Product Displacement. When a character from a show is endorsing the product, it's Celebrity Endorsement. See Destroy The Product Placement, when said product placement is damaged, broken or destroyed. See Console Cameo for when the product is required to see the placement in the first place.


History - brought to you by delicious Brand XTM!

The practice began in the early days of American radio, with companies lending their names to title programs as a way for funding them. The Secretary of Commerce, which licensed radio stations during most of the 1920s, prohibited direct advertising. By 1930, advertising was permitted, but the practice remained for years. Slowly the shows set themselves apart from the ads, with announcers shilling for a product, while the characters had an adventure. Product placement also was frequent during the early days of television, with characters shilling for their sponsor at the end of an episode. However, a quiz show scandal in 1958 forced networks to control their programs, instead of the sponsors. Product placement transitioned to movies until the mid-1990s, when TV regulators relaxed the rules against products appearing outside of ad breaks.

In the UK, a law banning paid product placement was rescinded, effective February 2011. It's now allowed, but only on commercial channels; The BBC's commitment to commercial-free television is Serious Business indeed.

It's still prohibited in Canada. A dishwasher manufacturer can recommend a certain brand of tablets, but the host of a cleaning show can't - in fact, they can't even show the brand name on screen.

In the movie The Great Man a radio personality mentions name-brand products on the air for personal gain. The movie was made in 1956, making this Older Than They Think. Indeed, there is (possibly apocryphal) evidence that suggests that merchants in Ancient Greece would attempt to bribe playwrights at drama festivals for favorable mentions of items in their plays. Someone epically telling the audience how great figs are could be quite good for business.

Examples - A large variety as only Heinz® can bring it to you!

    open/close all folders 

    Advertisement 
  • The Dualvertisement is where one product's commercial includes a plug for a different product.
    • A commercial for a dating site where the guy chatting up his partner jokingly mentions a "study" that people who own iPhones have more sex. Take a moment to let that sink in: They are advertising a product in an advertisement for another goddamn product. Not only that, but the same commercial even has the other person on the date mention Android, one of the iPhone's biggest smart phone competitors!
    • One e-trade commercial has the man onscreen state that he made enough money using the service to buy seven monitors; six to watch the market, and one to "regulate chumps in Gears of War."
    • A Kellogg's SmartStart Healthy Heart features women doing healthy things like yoga, exercising, and playing Wii Sports.
    • Toyota's 2011 Lexus icIS is advertised using Yamaha drum equipment. According to The Other Wiki, Toyota and Yamaha made a capital alliance in 2000.
    • The directory inquiries service 118 118 has a daily advert in British newspaper Metro in the form of a short comic strip. Bizarrely, many of these strips feature blatant plugs for other products.
    • Sprint's ads for its "Now Network" namedrop services like Twitter. Which makes sense, since a lot of people tweet from their phones. Mentioning specific websites to buy shoes, or saying that X amount of money generated by sales of Y is enough to build a Dunkin' Donuts...in space, not so much.

    Fan Fic 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has the titular characters eating Butterfingers in a Halloween Episode. To make it even more blatant, it's apparently their favorite.
  • In a Stealth Pun as stealthy as getting hit by a truck, the Lemony Narrator of Equestria: A History Revealed invokes this trope with the word "Hot Topic", which is of course followed by a tiny "Buy MLP Shirts Today!"
    • Directly referenced in the bibliography as a message paid by the Hot Topic corporation.
    • Later on, the narrator attempts to sell off copies of her own book, "An Abhorrent Offense: Princess Luna and the Invasion of Privacy", becoming increasingly desperate throughout the fic as she does so.
  • My Immortal and its many clones prominently feature Hot Topic, with Enoby even owning a loyalty card, but it's later subverted when they go shopping at an independent store for her party outfit.

    Film - Animated 
  • Bee Movie had Bumble Bee Tuna in a pantry for the main character to do a double take at. (Too bad they didn't also go for Bit-O'-Honey with the candy with which the opposing lawyer was taunting him later.)
  • Some of Cars' characters have real car models. For instance, Sally is a Porsche 911. Flo is a generic V8. "The King" is an ink-suit version of his voicer Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird. "Junior" is basically Dale Earnhardt, Jr. voicing his own #8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.
  • The Incredibles: Frozone uses Hai Karate aftershave — a real-life brand from The Sixties.
  • WALL•E:
    • The film has a makeshift television consisting of a magnifier and an iPod, among other Apple Shout Outs. Apple founder Steve Jobs used to run Pixar and was the largest stock holder of Disney-Pixar, so it's probably a tribute.
    • The Evil AI uses a default text-to-speech voice option on older Macs, and the Mac boot-up chime can be heard as well.
  • Food Fight is riddled with this, with the plot featuring established characters/mascots fighting against generic Bland Name Products in a supermarket after-hours.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has a ton:
    • First, a Subway cup is seen at the arcade, then there is Nesquik Sand, and Laffy Taffy vines that laugh are shown.
    • It also has a lot of real video game characters in it. Some, like Fix It Felix Jr. and Sugar Rush were made for the film.
    • The power strip that serves as the central station shows Radio Shack's stylized "R" at every outlet.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children had some rather gratuitous close-ups of Panasonic FOMA P900iV cell phones, which at the time were available only in the movie's native Japan. Some of the usage is humorous; there's a scene where after a fight, the "Victory theme" from the game is heard... but it's the bad guy's cell phone ringtone. It should also be noted that this was so effective that it has created demand for this phone in regions where it will not even work as a phone due to network differences.
  • Monster House has a deal with the manufacturer of "Mr. Clean" products which actually includes putting an actor dressed as Mr. Clean in shot during the "final prep" stage of each house.
  • Toy Story features several real toys as its characters. The toys that weren't currently in production at the time of the movie were quickly made available again to cash in on the massive success of the movie. Best of all, Mattel didn't let Pixar use Barbie in the first movie, thinking it would flop. Four years later, Barbie featured prominently in Toy Story 2 and became one of the main characters in Toy Story 3, along with male counterpart Ken. The fact that sales of Mr. Potato Head went way up after the toy was featured in the first film gave Mattel a change of heart and they were more then happy to have Barbie in the sequels.
    • Speaking of Mattel, in the first film, Rex literally mentions he's from Mattel and Mr. Potato Head mentions he's from Playskool.
    • "Sid! Your Pop Tarts are ready!"
  • A TDK electronics billboard appears at one point in The Brave Little Toaster.
  • In Oliver & Company, New York is filled to the brim with adverts for just about every product you could think of. On the other hand, it wouldn't BE New York without advertising.
  • The Ant Bully featured Jelly Belly jellybeans.
  • Near the end of Open Season Beth can be seen using a Sony Ericsson cellphone.
  • Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights had a lengthy poem describing the brand-name stores in a mall.
    • And when Sandler's character drunkenly returns to the mall, the company mascots come to life in a hallucinatory musical number.
  • In Epic Bomba has a library of animal and nature sounds kept on a 4th gen iPod Touch.
  • In Free Birds, the turkeys succeed in changing history by offering Chuck E. Cheese Pizzas (which for some reason are delivery) at the first Thanksgiving meal. A few brands are also featured on a map in the US Military's testing base.
  • In Turbo, many brands are advertised on vehicles. Verizon, one of those brands, also gets featured on a mobile phone.
  • The LEGO Movie; despite the obvious, there's also plugs for Band-Aids, Xacto knives, Q-tips and Krazy Glue. They are treated like ancient relics, with the last one being a super weapon that can end the world.

    Literature 

    Music 
  • The last few seconds of the "For My Broken Heart" music video show Reba McEntire ordering an Icee drink. (scene begins at 3:15)
  • Jason Aldean name-dropped Shiner Bock beer in his song "Take a Little Ride". A week after the single was released, the line was changed to "Rocky tops" because he had signed an endorsement deal with Coors, so his label sent out notes to radio stations asking them to play the "Rocky tops" version instead. (Interestingly, the countdown show Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 still plays the "Shiner Bock" version.)
  • In the video for the 2012 fun. song "We Are Young", great pains are taken to make it obvious the phone that starts the riot/food fight is a Windows Phone, showing the Metro UI as it tumbles in slow motion.
  • Hip-hop's over-reliance on product placement has become a point of embarrassment for some fans and artists. It's nothing new, what with Run-DMC's "My Adidas" coming out in 1985, but some rappers avoid it entirely while others live for it, not even getting paid for the brand-dropping. Interestingly, some companies (like high-end wine makers and pistol manufacturers) have expressed disdain for the practice, half because they don't want their product associated with something as crass and low-brow as the type of rap likely to do it, half because they feel such rappers irresponsibly promote drinking and guns to minors.
  • Rap videos can be really bad with this. Several, such as "Pass the Courvasier" by Busta Rhymes and "Air Force Ones" (about a brand of basketball shoes) by Nelly are basically 4-minute, unpaid commercials. In fact, many fine wine makers don't like the publicity from mainstream rap; half out of snobbiness, half out of concern that it promotes underage drinking.
  • Visual Kei is similar to Hip Hop in this: nearly everything from an artist's fashion to his or her gear to, sometimes, the brand of preferred alcohol and/or tobacco is a Product Placement or sponsorship deal. And if a company (especially a gear or instrument company or existing fashion house) is lucky enough that one of "their" stars becomes the biggest breakout rockstar, they will be practically set for business for a long time (at least until people forget that artist and all his or her imitators wanting to be just like him or her). For example, the Japanese Visual Kei guitarist and bassist equivalent of Everybody Owns A Ford is, thanks to Fernandes being lucky enough to product place with hide and Heath, "everybody owns a Fernandes."
    • As an example, the following is a composite of a usual artist profile in Visual Kei. The items have been randomized, and there is no artist name so this doesn't stick to a particular artist, but this is how far Product Placement goes into the image of an artist.
      • Clothes: H.Naoto
      • Jewelry: Arizona Freedom, H.Naoto, Alex Streeter
      • Guitars: Burny Fernandes MG-360, Fernandes Vertigo Elite
      • Candy: Kit Kat
      • Favorite food: Burger King
      • Alcohol: Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon
      • Cigarette: Seven Stars
      • And so on and so on...
    • Modern Visual Kei Performance Videos are often similar. Early VK only had the instrument and gear and fashion form of Product Placement, with other direct forms of Product Placement somewhat eschewed by most artists, but modern videos often product place more. A good example of this is the available footage of the (as yet unreleased) 2010 version of Rusty Nail by X Japan: there are product placements for, among other things, Apple with an iPhone getting prominent time, and for Maserati (the car Toshi is driving) and for Honda (the bike Heath has)... and those are just a few of the more obvious ones.
  • Lady Gaga's "Telephone" contains a lot of product placement for everything from Virgin Mobile and Plenty of Fish to Diet Coke and Miracle Whip. Compared with how hamfisted it is compared to the placement of stuff like Wii nunchucks in "Bad Romance", the explanation that it's Stealth Parody is more likely.
  • Music/Queen's first international hit, Killer Queen, began with the line "she keeps Moët et Chandon in her pretty cabinet", which wasn't so much conscious product placement as much as it was simply a way of depicting the fictional posh woman whom the song is about; the winery still took it as free advertisement, and thanked the band and producer by sending them vats of champagne as well as tickets for Wimbledon and Grand Prix.
  • Beloved Australian ballad "Waltzing Matilda" was bought from Banjo Paterson by the Billy Tea company, who changed one of the lines from "And leading a water bag" to "And waited till his Billy boiled" for the purposes of promoting their product. The second one is the better-known version, to the point that US kids have for decades thought a 'billy' was a kettle or can or something you'd boil water in to make tea. Since the tea brand was named after the device used by Australian travellers to boil water over a campfire, the line "waited till his Billy boiled" is cunningly ambiguous.
  • Hilariously taken to the extreme in T.M. Revolutions "Resonance" music video where scenes are interspersed onto Sony products, which everybody seems to own and use.
  • The video for "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters actually pulled this off in a pretty clever way. The single was released on the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop, and music videos from movie soundtracks will frequently be filled with clips from the movie in question. In the video, the Pointer Sisters are the long-suffering employees of a movie theater showing a screening of Beverly Hills Cop, therefore all the clips from the movie actually made sense.
  • The George Thorogood song "I Drink Alone" manages to name-drop at least alcoholic beverage in every verse: Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker (Black and Red), Old Grand-Dad, and Budweiser.

    Musicals 
  • In Vanities: A New Musical, the second and third versions of "Mystery"(so far only used in ACT's version) name various cosmetic and fashion brands. In "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", Mary mentions a "Troll doll wearing a pillbox hat" and a "Ford convertible". That song's predecessor, "Hey There, Beautiful", also had several, including Maybelline, Ultra Lash, the Flintstones, and the aforementioned Troll doll.
  • Monty Python's Spamalot, from the title itself to the Camelot song, which features a giant can of the food product.
  • In the first iteration of Big: the Musical as it began tryouts in Detroit, there was huge shameless shilling of the FAO Schwarz stores, as they were one of the major producers of the show, and a pivotal scene (yes, the piano, too, was an important part of the production number) took place there. As time went on and the musical moved to Broadway, while advertising for the show was still all over the FAO Schwarz on Fifth Avenue, the product placement in-show was averted, and the store was no longer explicitly referred to by name. Its ersatz theme song still existed though:
    "Come in, come in, for the time of your life
    We promise you the time of your life
    'Cause every day is the time of your life
    When it's time for fun!"

    Pinball 
  • Although 3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride is technically a Licensed Pinball Table (based on the Real Life Hershey Park Theme Park), the connection is heavily downplayed to the point where it feels like Product Placement instead. This is most evident in the game's various thrill rides, which are based on the ones in the real park.
  • As befitting the source, NASCAR features product placements via the Real Life drivers' cars and sponsors — Rusty Wallace's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Kevin Harvick's No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, and Ricky Rudd's No. 21 Motorcraft Ford.
  • No points for guessing what automaker's cars appear throughout Williams Electronics' Corvette
  • Rollergames features endorsements by Pepsi, Slice Orange Soda, Mug Root Beer, GamePro, Thermos, and ShareData.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ivory soap got a free commercial on Thursday Night Smackdown when John Cena and Chris Benoit made Paul Heyman eat a bar of it.
  • In one promo, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin mentioned driving down to Sonic Drive-In and ordering some food while trying to decide whether to challenge Chris Jericho or Booker T.
  • Daffney Unger sometimes wrestled in a shirt reading "your advertisement here" and played it straight, one of her moves being known as "Leggo My Eggos".
  • Claudio Castagnoli will prove the superiority of his country's medical products by boosting their sales with his Ricola bomb.
  • Dean Ambrose would like to remind to The Shield is not The Nexus and if you want the nWo, go buy the DVD
  • Eggo Waffles and Google got free commercials during the war of words between Ring Warriors challenger Amber Rodriguez and champion La Rosa Negra due to the former running with the latter's English problems.
  • CM Punk is walking, talking commercial for Pepsi (specifically, Diet Pepsi) with his prominent tattoo.

    Radio 
  • Lux Radio Theatre, radio adaptations of Hollywood films sponsored by Lux soap, is an example of the early "Brand X" form of sponsorship/product placement.
  • An episode of A Prairie Home Companion underwritten by Toyota featured a Prius as a prize in an art content in a Life of Bob sketch.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Comedian Dane Cook name-drops so many brands in his act that it'd be more shocking if he wasn't paid to do it.

    Web Comics 
  • The main characters of the web comic The Fuzzy Five are Living Toy versions of squishable soft toys, but the result is not a lame series of advertisements, but a nicely nutty off-the-Fourth-Wall strip.
  • In Homestuck, one of the walkaround flashes allowed Horuss to unlock a treasure chest containing a Bad Dragon Chance the Stallion Flared dildo. This was at the same time as Bad Dragon were running an ad on the Homestuck front page featuring a screenshot of that exact moment and describing themselves as 'purveyors of classical art sculptures' (in Homestuck, Furry pornography is considered high art). (Bad Dragon had become briefly notorious in the Homestuck tumblr fanbase, as one of their dildo colouring options resembles the colours of troll horns, which may have inspired the sponsorship.)

    Web Video 
  • A blatant example from lonelygirl15 is the Ice Breakers Sours Gum, which is shown in "Truckstop Reunion". When Daniel asks what Bree is holding, she gives the full name of the product (rather than just saying "gum"), holding the packet up so the viewers get a good look at the logo. Daniel and Jonas then beg Bree for some gum, but she puts all four remaining pieces in her mouth instead, to the boys' dismay.
  • KateModern contains frequent product placement. In most cases it serves to make the show more realistic, although in the case of Tampax, it became a little odd (who makes a video about the brand of tampon they use?). Then there's "Skittle Yourself", which actually asks viewers to create their own Skittles adverts and put them online. Go on, it'll be fun!
  • Fred maintains a modest six figure income through blatant product placements of zipits, t-shirts, and his merchandise.
  • Due to LoadingReadyRun's recent deal with game company Wizards of the Coast, several of their recent videos have contained prominent product placement, including "The Secret Life of Board Games", the Feed Dump episode "Soldiers of Fortune", and the commodoreHUSTLE episode "Roll For Treats". It should be noted, though, that they were giving total freedom as to the method by which they placed the products, and the resulting sketches are no less funny for it.
  • The Sassy Gay Friend began shilling for MiO, a drink flavoring. Done as obviously as an Enforced Plug.
  • Jerry Seinfeld's series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee has been sponsored by Acura since season two. Occasionally, a deliberately placed Acura vehicle will show up in the video at some point during their trip. When it happens, it will be shamelessly lampshaded by Jerry and his guest.

    Western Animation 
  • The live action pilot of the cartoon series Popples had a major plot point about the Popples being donated to Goodwill.
    • The actual series features a magazine named ViVi in the episode "A Hair-Raising Experience", which is actually a real Japanese fashion magazine.
  • South Park:
    • From about Season 6 onward, they have had an uncanny obsession with Dr. Pepper. It's almost guaranteed to be the beverage of choice unless the plot calls for otherwise. Two particular examples that stand out are "Last of the Meheecans" where the boys are all sitting at the dinner table with rows of Dr. Pepper cans lain neatly down the screen, and "The Poor Kid" where a foster home has a refrigerator consisting exclusively of it, and bans all other beverages. One has to wonder if Trey Parker has a thing for the drink.
    • Another soft drink was used (this time for laughs) in the Season 16 episode "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" where Cartman drinks Mountain Dew—known for being the most caffeinated of sodas—to counter the sheer boredom of the gang's ill-chosen field trip. This escalates into him drinking a (as of writing) fictional variant called Double Dew with twice the caffeine and sugar.
  • The Awesomes ends each episode with a plug for Jack Link's Beef Jerky.
  • Spider-Man: The New Animated Series had everyone using Sony Ericsson cellphones and Nokia ringtones. This was due to the relaxed broadcast standards of MTV, as such blatant shilling would usually be considered taboo in your average superhero cartoon.
  • La Linea originally began as a series commercials for Lagostina cookware, with the products advertised at the end of each episode. The character from the shorts has also been in ads for the now-defunct Kaupthing Bank and Ford C-MAX hybrid cars.

    Wrestling 
  • At one point, WWE wrestlers Edge and Christian happened upon a vending machine selling RC Edge cola. Upon discovering that there's a cola "named after him", Edge declares, "Now, more than ever, Sodas Rule!"
  • Just about every time an episode of WCW Monday Nitro cut to the announce desk, a bottle of Surge would be plainly visible, with the label facing the camera.
  • At one point, X-Pac was pretty blatantly shown drinking Hansen's Energy - even on the way down the ramp before a match. In fact, his entrance video briefly featured several closeups of a Hansen's Energy can.
    • This really obvious product-placement was parodied savagely on the (old) ECW by having someone 'force' wrestler CW Anderson to wrestle dressed as a bottle of power-drink. ("Cap" hat, little armholes sticking out of the bottle, really hard to get up once knocked over, etc)
  • Then there's the 3 hour episode of WWE Raw that was commercial free. It may have not had actual commercials, but in between matches the announcers would shill KFC and other sponsors. They even had a bucket of KFC chicken on the announcer table.
  • Another episode of Raw had Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler doing a pitch for Subway, with Subway sandwiches on the announce table in front of them. After the next match, Santino Marella stole Lawler's sandwich and ran back to the locker room, cackling like a supervillain the whole time. Lawler then spent the better part of an hour pouting about his lost sandwich. It was one of the funniest examples of Product Placement on record, just because of everybody's reactions.
  • And in yet another example, Subway spokesman Jared Fogle appeared on Raw to pitch Subway himself. CM Punk subsequently decided that Jared's message of healthy eating would fit well with his own message, and decided to make Jared join the Straight Edge Society — whether he wanted to or not. Jared ended up getting rescued by DX, but not before an extremely funny segment with Punk chewing scenery like there was no tomorrow.
    CM Punk: "Bring me Jared from Subway."
  • An episode of WWE Raw that had a fairly drawn out skit involving Maria working out on a Bowflex in as little clothing as possible, with someone dropping by to comment on how great the Bowflex is and how it'd help to improve Maria's in ring skills. The particular one was even eventually sold on WWE's website autographed by Maria! The fact that the next time something involved WWE and a Bowflex was the Chris Benoit story, though, well...
  • In 2013, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole ordered Domino's Pizza to be sent to the commentary booth. Unfortunately for them, some audience members got the pizza instead.
  • Slightly before that, they enjoyed Sonic chicken nuggets.
  • As Managing Supervisor of Raw, it is Vickie Guerrero's duty to eat Hardee's when they sponsor the show. Remember: chew, then swallow. (Hardee's also sponsored Smackdown that week.)

     Other 
  • While we don't get paid for it, this very wiki is not immune to it, with product names creeping into trope titles—sometimes justified when talking about tropes that have to do with brand names, but often just because. (That last one, in particular, could've easily been made generic.) One company even got two tropes named after it for no apparent reason besides Rule of Funny.
  • Ever bought a T-shirt with a product design or logo on it? As Calvin and Hobbes once pointed out, every time you wear that shirt you turn into a walking example of this trope.
  • Paul Barry of Media Watch frequently makes a point of newspapers printing what is essentially commercials that look like editorial content and using definitions that deliberately blur the line between advertising and news.


Parodies - Because we produce the only true Quaker Oats®:

    —> You Could Advertise Here! <— 
  • Two Sprint commercials have made fun of this, presenting their commercials for the Instinct phone as movie trailers. They're actually called something like "the finest product placement movie this summer", with "finest" often replaced for a more genre-appropriate word (such as "scariest" or "heartwarming").
  • A Budweiser commercial featured a movie director wondering why there was a bottle of window cleaner on the set of his medieval-period sword fighting scene. He's informed that if he shills products in the movie, the company will give him free stuff. Cue everything on set being branded with the Budweiser logo.

    Comic Books (DC Comics'® Batman®
  • The DC Comics series 52:
    • Booster Gold, a superhero with a reputation for being self-interested, tools around Metropolis with a dozen logo decals stuck to his costume. (He later learns his lesson. And then explodes. But gets better.)
    • In the early '90s, Booster headed up a corporate superhero team called The Conglomerate as competitors for the Justice League of America. The members wore jackets over their regular superhero outfits that featured various DCU-native companies such as Star Labs and Lexcorp. The companies then made the mistake of insisting that The Conglomerate start looking after the companies' interests over the welfare of the world in general, which ultimately backfired on them.
  • Transmetropolitan parodied this. At one point, the main character, Spider Jerusalem, very newsworthy, goes on a booze fueled rant. As shown in other points, one can clearly click over to buy the booze Spider is holding as he does his thing. In another aspect, Spider, naive to the ways of City life, is hit with an advertising bomb that unloads ads in his sleep. Society isn't completely insane; chemically induced ad visions cause mucho neurological disasters and are illegal...until they aren't for about five minutes every few legal cycles. Guess what the citizens get sprayed with then? And last but not least, the TVs in your home don't seem to have an off switch... Spider's TV might be an exception, though. He explicitly programs it to change channels every twenty seconds in the first issue and leaves it on. Constant information overload probably goes with the territory of being a journalist.
  • In one of the issues of The Simpsons comic, Homer mentions that during an interview you should mention products "Such as Chips Ahoy! cookies!" so they have to pay you.

    Comic Strips (Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes®
  • Foxtrot parodied this once.
    Paige: I hate how the American Idol judges always have those Pepsi cans in front of them.
    Peter: It's called product placement, Paige.
    Paige: Well, it's tacky.
    Peter: Get used to it. Altoid Mint?
    Paige: Yes, thanks! They're Curiously Strong!
  • One Pearls Before Swine strip had Larry secretly eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in the closet because he's too lazy to catch a zebra. Pastis said in the Pearls Sells Out commentary that people ask him if he's paid by companies to mention their products. He says no, and that he's never been approached.

    Fan Fic (Blue Paratroopa's Calvin at Camp
  • Though Calvin & Hobbes: The Series is a non-commercial work, and it often plays this trope straight, it still manages to lampshade it:
    Narrator: A season of... product placement?
    Hobbes: Who's up for the What About Bob? movie!
    Calvin and Socrates: I AM!
  • From one of the authors of the above, Attack Of The Teacher Creature has a more obvious parody.
    "It tastes like a cup of heaven!" he whispered.
    "And it goes down smooooooooth," added Hobbes, quoting the soda ad.
    Sherman was confused. "Is this just an example of product placement?" he asked.
    "Who cares?" Calvin said, taking another gulp. "Fresh, delectable beverages at reasonably cost prices is enough to win me over."
  • Hitman Miami: Parodied in chapter three, which features product placement from Coca-Cola throughout.
  • Parodied in The Woeful, Sad Sorrow Of King Sombra, where King Sombra engages into some shilling for the Friendship Express while telling his story.

    Literature (Dan Brown's™ Illuminati
  • In Rally Round the Flag, Boys! by Max Shulman, a bunch of advertising executives representing a breakfast-cereal company meet with the producer of a Biblical Times drama series sponsored by their client to debate the question: "How do we identify King David with Crackle-Crunchies?" They variously propose having David Time Travel into the twentieth-century to eat Crackle-Crunchies and David having a vision of God presenting him with a bowl of Crackle-Crunchies. The producer's own idea is to have King David invent the delicacy of Crackle-Crunchies and write down the secret formula in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • How To Be A Superhero lists this as one of the downsides of having a corporate sponsor:
    They [the sponsor] insist that you use their products in the fight against crime.
    (This may be OK if they manufacture napalm, titanium plating or radar equipment, but it's not much use if they make children's clothing, toothpaste or sanitary napkins...)
  • In Moving Pictures, C.M.O.T. Dibbler adds increasingly blatant product placement for Harga's House of Ribs into Blown Away (set during the Ankh-Morpork Civil War, 300 years before Harga opened his doors) in a desperate attempt to break even, much to his nephew Soll's disgust.
    Sol: Hey, you there! Fifteenth knight along! Would you mind unfurling your banner? Thank you. Could you pop along and see Mrs Cosmopolite for a new one? Thank you!
    C.M.O.T.: It's ... it's a heraldic device.
    Sol: Crossed ribs on a bed of lettuce?
    C.M.O.T.: Very keen on their food, these old knights.
    Sol: And I liked the motto. "Every (k)night is gourmay night at Harga's House of Ribs". If we had sound, I wonder what his battlecry would have been?
    And later, as the city-set burns
    C.M.O.T.: I hope Gaffer's concentrating on the tower. Very important symbolic landmark.
    Sol: It certainly is. So important, in fact, that I sent some lads up it at lunchtime just to make sure it was all OK.
    C.M.O.T.: You did?
    Sol: Yes. And do you know what they found? They found someone had nailed some fireworks to the outside. Lots and lots of fireworks, on fuses. It's a good thing they found them because if the things had gone off it would have ruined the shot and we'd never be able to do it again. And, do you know, they said it looked as though the fireworks would spell out words?
    C.M.O.T.: What words?
    Sol: Never crossed my mind to ask them. Never crossed my mind. (Beat) "Hottest ribs in town!" Really!

    Live Action TV(Friends™
  • In Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations while covering Singapore, he declares that the food in the Hyatt™ chain of hotels over there does not suck. During the segment he makes passing remarks about how he's endorsing the establishment for free and wants to get in on the endorsement act like so many other celebrities eventually give into. Which he does, sort of, in the next segment by posing with some items in front of one of his professional photographer friends.

    Web Comics (Penny Arcade™
  • For a brief while, John Campbell claimed that pictures for sad children was being sponsored by the Long John Silver's restaurant chain. He made these two pages during that time, and for the duration of the joke, the pages in question were colored blue and yellow and the plain white background of the website was replaced with a splash ad for LJS.
  • Nuzlocke Comics poked a bit of fun at the concept after his site introduced ads.
  • Oreos, saving squirrels from being eaten since 1912. At least according to the squirrel Sid from Sandra and Woo.
  • Neglected Mario Characters is absolutely plastered with ads for a poker playing website, so they mocked this with both a poker machine being the 'comic president' and the entertaining quote at the bottom of the page:
    Just as a note, Jay wrote these articles as a Mario fan. Unfortunately, he did not play poker. That is why we had to get rid of him. Some of parts of his writing come from factual Nintendo information. Which gets in the way of the gambling. The rest was his own imagination. After Jay left, others continued in his stead, until becoming addicted to poker.
  • Homestuck has some jokey references to Betty Crocker (with Gushers being used as health items) and Doritos (with Bro's shitty, glitch-filled licensed skateboarding game.) The former company factors more and more into the story until it's revealed that Betty Crocker herself is Her Imperious Condescension, the ruler of the trolls, and rules the earth (as well as Derse) in the kids' Alpha timeline. Jane is also the heiress to the company in said timeline.
  • In Knights Of Buena Vista, the game "FantasiaLand (used for the settings in the Campaign Comic) has some product placement. Or at least Bill guesses that's why Haagan-Dazs is included in settings that take place well before that company existed.

    Web Original (Jew Wario™
  • Parodied in This Zero Punctuation episode.
    GAMETRADERS ROBINA
  • Italian Spiderman parodies this trope, with the "Il Gallo" (a fictional label, mind you) cigarettes often smoked by the main character — he even blatantly exhibits them during one episode.
  • The Irate Gamer: In his Yo! Noid review, he notes at the beginning that the game's developer sold out by making a bad game based on a Domino's Pizza mascot. As he reviews the game, he wonders why Domino's would do such a thing. He then gets a check from Domino's and decides that selling out isn't a bad thing and starts promoting and namedropping random products ("After all, a logo can go a long way.") while praising the game. He finally stops when he sees how bad the ending is and decides that he'll only sell out to himself.
  • Speaking of Domino's
  • A Very Potter Sequel parodies this with Ron's love of Red Vines - complete with smiles directly to camera and zooming close-ups, as well as Harry and Ron's friendship being rooted in a mutual love of the things.
    • The Potion Masters Corner parodies that in Joey Richter's (who played Ron) interview. Snape interrupts Joey to mention Cookie Crisp frequently.
  • "Invention Pioneers of Note" parodies this in Season 4, which contains multiple instances of forced and awkward product placement, as well as itself being a thinly disguised commercial for a restaurant.
  • Tobuscus manages to parody this trope and play it straight at the same time. His schtick is to get paid by advertisers to produce parody videos about their products, under the theory that humor creates buzz. On the other hand, some of his videos are straight parodies, such as the FarmVille series (which almost got him in copyright trouble due to an overzealous Zynga employee). As if that weren't enough, any time a brand name appears in any of his videos or he mentions one in passing, he yells "Sponsor!", whether the appearance is sponsored or not.
  • Parodied in The Nostalgia Critic review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture
    Critic: So to put it bluntly, he'll be back after these messages. (Lights start dimming) No, hey what are you doing? That was a joke. It wasn't serious. It wasn't serious. No, hey, what are you doing? STOP! (a real blip ad plays and then the lights come back on) Chester, report!
    Chester A. Bum: We are being intersected by a word from our sponsor!
    Critic: Dammit. These advertising execs are getting more and more clever. Raise our shields against anymore commercial plugs!
    Critic: Chester!
    Chester: Sorry, sorry.
  • Red Letter Media in their Half in the Bag series ended their Jack and Jill review by purposely shoving various products in front of the camera, mocking the movie's overuse of it.
  • Welcome to Night Vale will feature "a word from our sponsors" in every episode, all of which are the creepiest of DadaAds or just the announcer making weird noises into the microphone for two minutes, followed by a disturbingly peppy announcement of the company and their slogan.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In "The Pet Games", the color commentary take a break from the game for "a word from our sponsors". It winds up being the show's normal opening credits, with a new voiceover:
    Tom Watergate: Now introducing Extreme Friendship! The great new taste, in glorious yellow.
  • RWBY has an in-universe example. One of the students at Beacon, Pyrrha Nikos, is a Famed in Story warrior and athlete. Jaune only recognises her from her appearance on the front of Pumpkin Pete's Marshmallow Flakes cereal boxes.
    Pyrrha: "Yeah. It was pretty cool. Sadly the cereal isn't very good for you."

    Western Animation (Nickelodeon's® Rocket Monkeys©
  • In an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Harvey Birdman's drink suddenly turns into a can of Tab. Then there is an extended live-action sequence where Birdman and a 5-foot can of Tab frolic on the beach.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, the main characters are wandering through a Nevada desert until they find a Wal-Mart smack dab in the middle of it. When D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) remarks how stupid it is, his "love interest" studio executive Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman) simply replies "Product Placement. No one notices that anymore" and no one else cares, since they are thirsty and tired. When they leave, they are loaded with stuff and Bugs Bunny says "It was very nice of Wal-Mart to give us all of these Wal-Mart products for saying "Wal-Mart" so many times."
  • Sealab 2021:
    • A few episodes are choked with fake ads for Grizzlebee's, a riff on Applebee's, TGI Friday's, and other US-based "down-home neighborhood family restaurant" franchises. "Grizzlebee's: You'll wish you had less fun!"
    • And at that, the episode "Tinfins" was itself one long advertisement for a fake movie, interspersed with advertisements for a fake restaurant.
    • Not to mention during the interviews with the makers of the movie, they clearly had Grizzlebee's.
    • As Captain Murphy learns, you don't mess with corporate sponsors.
  • Frisky Dingo had some fun with this, as an entire episode simultaneously hawked and mocked the Scion TC: Killface plans to spread his plans for world domination on Live with Mitzi & Verl, but his first segment got bumped because the hosts were so caught up in discussing the car, then it takes up a good chunk of his second segment as well, before he sarcastically screams that once he takes over the world, "you won't have much use for 17-inch alloy wheels". The studio crew takes this impetus to show ad footage of the Scion behind him as he rants about everyone falling victim to "Scion fever", which the hosts and crowd also take and run with. He then storms out of the studio, and gets splashed with mud by a passing Scion TC.
  • Futurama made a few jokes mocking this by putting advertising in dreams and also with Nixon's repeated shilling for "Charleston Chew" during his speeches, although that one might be a matter of them finding Nixon saying "Charleston Chew" hilarious.
    Futurama is brought to you by: Molten Boron!"
    Female Voice: "Nobody doesn't like Molten Boron!
    • Used again in the "Gunderson's Nuts Holiday Spectacular Featuring Futurama"
    Amy: They're nut so good!
  • The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Boost Mobile" revolves around the title brand of cell phone, but with more than enough [adult swim]-style self-conscious mockery. "Hey, homie, where you at? THE WHOLE CITY'S BEHIND US!"
  • American Dad! parodies it in "Black Mystery Month", when Steve and Stan stop at a Burger King:
    Steve: Why did we have to come to a Burger King to read the map?
    Stan: Because the economics of television have changed! (awkwardly, towards the camera) Have it... your way!
    • Ironically, Burger King was the first sponsor American Dad ever had, and just a few episodes before "Black Mystery Month", two characters visited Burger King with absolutely no trace of parody whatsoever.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In one episode, the favored cigarettes of notorious badass Brock Sampson is revealed to be Marlboro cigarettes — which in the Venture Bros.-verse are called "Manboro".
    • King Gorilla, one of Monarch's jail buddies from the last part of Season 1 and beginning of Season 2, makes his return in the second half of Season 4. At the welcome back party King Gorilla is now suffering from lung cancer and the gift Monarch gets him? You guessed it — a carton of cigarettes.
    • "The Rusty Venture Show, brought to you by... Smoking."
  • An episode of Arthur had Francine filming a music video. When asked why she put a bottle of tomato ketchup on top of a tombstone, she explained it was product placement.
  • In The Proud Family, Oscar Proud managed to get his Proud Snacks onto product placement in the ending of the episode (after his attempts at getting his commercial aired resulted in it being interrupted, the first time due to a pointless breaking news story about a tv show getting cancelled, the second due to Penny protesting). It airs on a TV show, and... well, let's just say that the snacks apparently killed one of the co-stars upon ingestion on-the-air. Also counts as a subtle Take That to The Parkers.


After reading all this, you must be hungry. What about some delicious Pizza Hut® and a Pepsi®? Yummy!
Studio AudienceGame Show TropesProgressive Jackpot
Planet LootersOlder than TelevisionPutting on the Reich
Polish The TurdShow BusinessDestroy The Product Placement
Previously OnSelf-Demonstrating ArticlePrompt Fic
Pre-Order BonusAdvertising TropesProduct Promotion Parade
Ninja MaidImageSource/Anime & MangaPurple Eyes
Prison ShipWe Are Not Alone IndexThe Protagonist
Produce PeltingAdded Alliterative AppealProduct Promotion Parade

alternative title(s): Licence To Shill; License To Shill
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