Product placement has always been a distraction, however slight, in movies. I remember seeing The Rookie and being giddy when Dennis Quaid took his first look at a major league ballpark from the pitcher's mound. The camera circled him as he spun slowly, reveling in the cheers, and what was that above his left shoulder? It was a Southwest Airlines banner on the back wall of the stadium. It took up about a quarter of the screen, as I remember, and was never out of that rotating shot. At the movie's pivotal moment, it was just Quaid's wonderstruck face and Southwest red-and-orange.
If that's the way it's gotta be, fine. But I'm rankled by the Firewall ad campaign, which gives Chrysler's latest junk model equal airtime and adspace with Harrison Old. I mean Ford. The trailer shows Ford zipping around parking garages in the Chrysler, evading bad guys in "style" (the above image is from the latest issue of EW). Don't know why, but this campaign makes me feel like a dumbass, like it's assuming I'm susceptible to it, like I'm going buy that Chrysler model the same day I plunk down $10 to see Firewall. It's a goddamn Chrysler. Old might as well be driving a white Buick.
It would've been less annoying if Warner Bros. and Chrysler approached their greedy symbiosis with the aplomb of BMW and Paramount, who managed to showcase the MINI Cooper as part of the plot of The Italian Job. The MINI is a cool car, it works with the movie, and the ad campaign didn't even feature it. I saw the movie in the summer of 2003. It's now two and a half years later, and guess what I use to zip around Chinatown? I'll give you a hint: it's British racing green. Sometimes a little subtlety goes a long way.
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