Clocking in with 45 brands, the new #1 movie at the box office, the seasonal romcom New Year's Eve, is bloated with as much product placement and brand name-dropping as it is marquee names. That count is high, yet still 15 brands fewer than the film's precursor, Valentine's Day.
A lot of the product placed in New Year's Eve is subject to a particular paradox: To have disclosed it would have been dishonest to reality.
Taking place around New York City's iconic Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop, the film includes numerous shots of the landmark square and its cluttered signage, as well as plenty o' stock footage of the actual event. In fact, the movie functions as a sort of tourism video produced by the city's tourism board. (Testifying to just how sanctioned it is as a tourism film, Mayor Mike Bloomberg even makes a cameo.)
In addition to the landmark locations, the film is filled with New York names and brands. One such inclusion is a humbling bit with New York public radio station WNYC.
Another scene is set at Bideawee, one of the oldest humane organizations in the United States, located on Manhattan's 38th Street.
But the real star of the film is Times Square. At least five of the numerous interwoven storielines take place here. One of the featured characters (Hilary Swank's Claire Morgan) is the vice president of the Times Square Alliance, the actual organization in charge of staging the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. The Alliance was very involved in the film, as demonstrated by the film's highlight on the organization's website. Director Garry Marshall spoke about the Alliance's role.
This dedication to portraying capturing the New Year's event as it really happens won the film the derision of famous film critic Roger Ebert:
"So help me out on this. You know those tens of thousands of people in Times Square? Are more than half of them usually wearing foam hats given to them by some company? Because in 'New Year's Eve,' we look out over the surging throng of ecstatic celebrants, and the sea of humanity is blue. They're all wearing freebie hats from Nivea skin creme. No hats for the Knicks, Budweiser or I Heart New York. All Nivea skin creme. Countless hats of Nivea blue. I've heard of product placement, but this is carpet bombing...
There are lots of closeups of people wearing Nivea, however. It must have taken a supreme effort of will for the filmmakers to resist showing any of the characters actually using Nivea. Not even Robert De Niro, the dying man who is consoled in his final hour by Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry). He wants to see that ball drop and die. Despite his excellent nursing care, he has a five-day beard. Not a regular beard, an Action Star Five-Day Stubble Beard. Have mercy on this man. Give him a shave and a little Nivea skin creme."
Ebert's anti-product placement rant was sparked by the loads of crowd shots from the film in which Nivea hats and "shaker" balloons fill the screen. Except, New Year's Eve is what New Year's Eve at Times Square really looks like. Is the below picture from the film, or from the real event?
On the Times Square Alliance's webpage of the event, Nivea is listed as an official sponsor. Moreover, the annual event features the "Nivea Countdown Stage" and "Nivea Kiss and Countdown Stages." The Alliance adds, "Nivea is providing festive blue New Year’s Eve hats and blue balloons tied with silver mylar ribbons along with useful Nivea Lip Care product to keep our lips looking and feeling beautiful for that unforgettable kiss at midnight."
And check out the photo on the landing page for the Alliance's New Year's Eve online hub:
Ebert later added this endnote to his column: "Countless readers have informed me that Nivea 'owns' New Year's Eve, and all those blue hats are real." Color Ebert Nivea blue — but don't send him the link to the official Times Square New Year's Eve photo gallery showing last year's Nivea-drenched ball drop.
In his wrath at Nivea, Ebert missed other paid for product placements in the film, including for booze brands Disaronno and Moët & Chandon.
For all of the brands in New Year's Eve and all of the top films of the last decade, visit the Brandcameo product placement database.