At the Movies: The Greatest Reverse Product Placements Of All Time


The big story in product placement this week was a case of reverse product placement: The NBC network worked out a licensing deal with office supplies retailer Staples to bring to life the Dunder Mifflin brand from the network’s hit show The Office.

By no means is this the first case of reverse product placement. Here’s a look at five of the most successful and fun reverse product placements of all time.[more]

Reverse product placement occurs when a fictional product in a film or TV show becomes available in real life, migrating from entertainment to retail via the wonders of licensing. In some cases this is comes about in a very planned and tactical manner, such as with Bubba Gump. In other cases, a fictional product from smaller film picks up a cult following. Either way, the result is an offering that connects consumers with the beloved film.

Forrest Gump, the 1994 tale about a rather slow southern gentleman who manages to find himself at the defining events of the 1960s and 70s, dumped a lot of baggage on American culture. If many people never hear “Life is like a box of chocolates…” ever again it will be too soon. One development from the film is the spin off Bubba Gump Shrimp Company chain of restaurants and cookbooks.

It’s Got What Plants Crave! While 2006’s Idiocracy was a box office bomb (in part because it was never ropily released), the film has a major cult following. It’s that following that generated to momentum to bring to market the energy drink thirst mutilator Brawndo.

Based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Quaker Oats shelled out $3 million to finance the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. And though the product meant to be launched from the film was initially pulled due to production problems, the Wonka Candy Company has gone on to become a major real life candy producer.

“I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us,” explained Dr. Ray Stantz in the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters. It took the site Think Geek to bring Stay Puft marshmallows to life, the second time.

“Unemployed? Out of work? Sober? You sat around the house all day. But now it’s Duff time! Duff, the beer that makes the days fly by!” Maybe the greatest fictional product of all time and certainly the most recognizable brand from The Simpsons. Today, Homer’s beloved Duff is available in both energy drink and full alcohol forms.

Fun fact: In his new autobiography former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Duff McKagan claims The Simpsons creators contacted him about using his name for the beer name, owing to McKagan’s penchant for overdoing his drinking.