Ah, product placement. A time-honored tradition of sacrificing artistic integrity at the feet of capital, and appeasing the bean counters with yet more Integrations for Brands. We asked for your least-favorite examples of automotive product placement in movies and TV, and you delivered in droves. Here are some of our favorites.
Goldeneye’s BMW Z3
BMW Z3 in Goldeneye
Goldeneye ranks up there among my favorite James Bond movies. It’s campy, it had Sean Bean, and it introduced a young Steve to the Arecibo Observatory — one of the coolest manmade structures ever. It was also the first Bond movie in the unofficial BMW Trilogy, though its Z3 was only on screen for a handful of shots. Just long enough to be used as a commercial, really.
Submitted by: TheDriveress
The Matrix: Reloaded’s GM Highway
I think the all-GM chase scene from The Matrix: Reloaded is pretty egregious.
General Motors donated over 100 cars to the production. All of them were destroyed in the filming of the epic car chase. Most of which was filmed on a fake 1.5 mile stretch of road that was built from scratch on a former navel base for $2.5 million.
Is an early-aughts Cadillac sedan, in all its wood-grain-steering-wheel glory, an ideal hero car? Probably not. The sea of GM vehicles cluttering the lanes certainly didn’t help the car casting either. But, this scene also has one of the best examples of automotive product placement: Trinity’s Matrix-green Ducati 996. The scene as a whole remains one of the high points of American cinema, with Juno Reactor’s perfect score underlying a masterclass in action cinematography, but the seas of General Motors cars definitely stick out.
Submitted by: Unacceptably Dry Scones
Knight Rider’s Mustang
The Ford Mustang Knight Rider from 2008. Does anyone remember this movie/series? Hoooo boy it was bad. NBC’s hit rate with shows is about 10%, but this thing was beyond embarrassing.
I think NBC was just a little too early on the Knight Rider revival. If it had come out around the Stranger Things era, with eighties nostalgia in full swing, we could all be eagerly awaiting the next full season on Netfl— I mean, Hul— I mean, Peacock? You know what, this really was doomed from the start.
Submitted by: ItsYourBoyHobbes
Batman v Superman’s Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade in Batman v Superman. Not that long before we’d seen Bruce Wayne driving a Lamborghini Murcielago, and now, this?!?
There’s also a Subaru Outback driven by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in The Dark Knight Rises - it’s kiiinda OK in the context of the film (in that it’s just some car that he commandeers), but man, does it sound strange to use the words “Subaru Outback” and “The Dark Knight” in the same sentence.
One could argue that Batman, as a character, is a bit of a Renegade himself. The crossover’s color scheme, blacked-out body and bright yellow emergency lights, isn’t unlike the classic nineties yellow-logo batsuit or the later Greg Capullo suit. What I’m saying is, I see where they were coming from with this choice. Does that make it good? Absolutely not.
Submitted by: Skipp
I, Robot’s Future Audi
In a movie festering with product placement, iRobot was the opposite of subtle or organic with its Audi tie-ins.
It’s one thing when a movie includes a current car from a major manufacturer. You can more easily make the argument to yourself that it’s just the car a character drives, a totally reasonable in-universe choice. But to have a future concept car, entirely untethered to the world, proudly displaying a brand badge? C’mon.
Submitted by: Half Man Half Bear Half Pig
Casino Royale’s Ford Mondeo
The extended Ford commercial that was Casino Royale - in which we get to enjoy a shoe-horned in extended segment of James Fucking Bond driving a Ford Focus hire car from the airport to the casino and trying his best to act impressed.
Utterly excruciating, jarring, pointless, and I hope Daniel Craig hated doing it as much
On the one hand, the Mondeo makes you think about just how often movie characters get totally unreasonable rental cars. Things far too interesting to see at your local Avis, Hertz, or other airport fare. On the other, the whole sequence is shot exactly like a car commercial — James Bond is clearly trying to sell you this reasonable midsize sedan.
Submitted by: fridgefreezer
Jurassic Park: Lost World’s Mercedes ML 320
Mercedes in Jurassic Park - Lost World. I mean, every one loved the destroyed Ford Explorer. It single highhandedly saved the reputation of every square-headlight Jeep. But a bunch of faux-modded suburban cruisers? Pass. I mean, we could except that science created dinosaurs with frogs, transporting a T-Rex in LA, but no “crew” was ever going to modify a ML-320 to go adventuring on some tropical island to fight a bunch of raptors. I mean Jurassic Park III as a whole was a better decision than the ML-320.
A vehicle being a worse decision than a late-era continuation of the Jurassic Park series is a bold claim. Yet, the appearance of an armored-up Mercedes certainly fits the bill — neither as rugged or prepared as a Jeep, nor as spacious as the Explorer from the first movie. The worst product placement choices make no sense within the universe of the film, and this absolutely fits that bill,
Submitted by: FutureDoc
The Avengers’ Acura NSX Convertible
Acura NSX in Iron Man. It was a concept car that bears no resemblance to anything Acura ever attempted to release. Also, it was on screen for even less time than the Z3 in Goldeneye.
What happens when a character always shows up in Audis in his own films, but needs to show up in an Acura-sponsored movie? You build him a custom drop-top NSX, apparently, in an admittedly gorgeous wine red color. With the end of the current NSX on the horizon, this particular one has aged exceptionally well — though that suit certainly hasn’t.
Submitted by: GreenAcurasAreTheCarsForMe
Star Wars’ Incom T-65B
Can we talk about how Star Wars was just a huge shill for Incom and their X-Wing model. And I really hope they got paid for their Correllian Eng. Corp hero-mobile, because that was just money on the table there.
Listen, it wasn’t cheap to move all that filming equipment all the way to a galaxy far, far away. Once in a while, you need to find a way to recoup the costs of production, even if that means compromising a few values. Incom must have offered a lot to George Lucas, given how prominently the T-65B X-Wing was featured in Star Wars’s climactic sequence, but that’s the cost of doing business. Contrary to popular belief, though, the YT-1300 light freighter earned its place in the film — the Corellian Engineering Corporation never paid a dime.
Submitted by: skeffles
Ooh, that reminds me of the tv show “Viper.”
Sometimes, product placement in an existing show or movie isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to go bigger, better, more extreme. Sometimes you need to create an entirely new show to promote a non-production version of your sports car. Surely, this was a great investment.
Submitted by: As Du Volant