Product placement is big business in America, as this helpful primer from MediaPost indicates:

Product placement –- a.k.a. brand integration — has grown into a roughly $25 billion industry in the U.S., supporting its own battery of go-getters, an extensive Wikipedia entry, a Morgan Spurlock movie about the practice and its own awards competition and Top 10 lists.

But while products all across the consumer spectrum are fighting (and paying) to get into entertainment programming, some actually want out.

Exhibit A (via the Hollywood Reporter):

Anheuser-Busch Asks Paramount to Remove Budweiser From ‘Flight’

Anheuser-Busch Cos., maker of Budweiser, has asked Paramount Pictures to remove the beer from its hit film Flight, which centers on an alcoholic pilot who guzzles alcohol and takes drugs both before and after he prevents a malfunctioning jetliner from crashing.

This Flight’s not for Bud, apparently. And that goes double for Stolichnaya, which Denzel also guzzles in the film.

But there’s no guarantee they’ll get what they want. As the LA Times reports, “[t]he courts have typically sided with the creative community when it comes to featuring real products in movies and television shows.”

So you can pay your way in, but you can’t sue your way out.

Beyond that, some think Anheuser-Busch should have just kept its bottle capped.

Some wonder if Anheuser-Busch’s complaints about the film might not bring the brewer more attention than if it had just kept quiet about the matter.

“I think they are being overly sensitive,” said Allen Adamson, managing partner with the branding firm Landor Associates. “I don’t think people seeing a character using alcohol inappropriately are going to make the connection back to the brand or think the brand condones the behavior.”

Interestingly, Budweiser is the sixth most common brand in Hollywood films, trailing only Ford, Apple, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Mercedes, according to MediPost.

Where there’s film, there’s Bud. It’s just this time, they need to fasten their seat belt.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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