Big time marketing executives have always made it their priority to understand and utilize the newest marketing techniques in their respective industries. Today modern and hip techniques such as social media, mobile, viral, and buzz marketing have become useful or the main focus of the marketing divisions for some major companies. However, one marketing technique will continue to be utilized consistently for many years to come, as it has been for almost the past two decades; this technique is of course Sandler Marketing.
Product placement is an extremely common form of marketing within the movie industry, and for good reason as both the companies and productions benefit. The film production gains additional funding or compensation from the company advertising, and the company advertising is able to cheekily distract the audience from the film that they paid to see by getting them to focus their attention on their product for mere moments. However, the artsy, observant, and somewhat pretentious filmgoer will be quick to identify product placement as a sign of the artist selling out to the big evil corporations. One of the performers of today that is most commonly accused of being a sell-out is Adam Sandler. Sandler’s movies have been so jam and peanut butter packed with shameless product placement, that I classify product placement in his movies as a different kind of marketing on its own. There is nothing discrete about the product placement in Sandler’s movies either as the advertisements are more blatantly obvious than a great white shark in a pool full of minnows. The product placement often goes so far that central plot points and key jokes in Sandler’s movies revolve around certain products, which is very unique but distracting. Now I know that everybody in real life uses the products in his movies on a daily basis, so if anything his movies are actually more realistic by having these products on display. It would seem extremely forced if Sandler’s character in one of his films were for example holding a can of Curly-Cola instead of Coca-Cola (there is no such thing as Curly-Cola, thank goodness). Nonetheless, marketing executives must bombard Sandler’s production company with offers to advertise their latest products upon hearing news of him making a new comedy, as he not only effectively puts their products on display but he also consistently attracts millions of people to watch his latest flicks despite their decline in overall quality. Sandler is the golden boy of in movie marketing for companies.
So, overall I am not too against movies utilizing product placement, especially when they need the additional funds to fulfill the director’s or studio’s vision. However, I do have an issue with Adam Sandler doing it. The real problem is that he forces products down the audiences’ throats in every single one of his comedies. Hasn’t he made enough money? He has had a lot of box office hits. As a result of my frustration, I have composed a list of the best and most obvious examples of shameless product placement in Adam Sandler movies:
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Despite all the hate I have just spewed about Sandler, this happens to be one of my favourite movies, and is pretty much the reason why I have watched everything he releases. This movie contains pretty common and relevant product placement including Pepsi and golf companies. However, the most obvious yet hilarious example of product placement is from Subway. Happy (Sandler) at the beginning of the film, upon seeing his girlfriend leave him, tells her to stay because he just bought them both Subway. Ok not too bad, but later in the film Happy is eating lunch with his new girlfriend pondering how to make money fast, inside a Subway restaurant of course. Then the next thing you know Happy is appearing in a full length Subway commercial. Although the commercial itself is a very funny part, it was just very ridiculous and over the top to have an actual Subway commercial within the movie. The fact that this commercial is one of the most memorable scenes in such a timeless and heavily quoted movie is a huge win for Subway. I realize that the commercial was for the sake of comedy but when Happy talks to his Grandma after showing her the commercial, he shows her a card that he got for doing the commercial that gives him free Subway for life. This line has no significance to anything whatsoever. Was this supposed to be funny that he got a card that gives him free subs for life? I doubt it because I’ve never laughed at it. What it does do is make me think “wow, it would sure be amazing to have free Subway for life”, and then I start to crave one of Subway’s generally subpar sandwiches that often disappoints because the smell of the bread is way better than the meal itself. Anyways, Happy gets the money he needs from doing the commercial and the show goes on, and this set the precedent of having the main plot of Sandler’s movies revolve around product placement.
The Waterboy (1998)
This movie has a character named Colonel Sanders for no reason, but some of the best scenes in the movie revolve around this nonsensical portrayal of the funny looking Kentucky Fried Chicken man. Yet, there is no mention of KFC in this movie though, so this is not necessarily product placement. However, there happens to be heaps of Gatorade product placement in this movie. The Gatorade product placement is relevant though, since this movie is about college football, and most college football teams consume coolers upon coolers of it and sometimes even waste it by foolishly dumping it on their coaches. Despite its relevancy, there is one scene where Sandler’s character, Bobby Boucher, hallucinates his coach mocking him by means of a song about Gatorade being better than water. This comes across as an attempt by Gatorade to promote their product in a comedic yet in your face way, and in the process they break the unwritten rule of dissing water as a beverage. Poor H2O doesn’t deserve to be put down like that. All it has ever done is keep the human race alive. Sorry Gatorade but I would take plain water any day over your vividly coloured version of sugar water… Except for the days when I’m hungover.
Big Daddy (1999)
There are constant mentions and promotions of McDonald’s in this movie but to me that isn’t the worst. Sandler’s character, Sonny Koufax, just happens to have a roommate whose girlfriend worked at Hooters. Then hilarity ensues as Koufax throughout the movie mocks the roommate’s girlfriend for having worked there. You might be saying, “That’s fine, he is just mentioning Hooters and mocking them for that matter, not that bad”. However, at the very end of the movie Koufax attends a surprise party for himself, at Hooters of all places, where everyone is hanging out, having a good time, and enjoying the greasy grub and hooters. The movie ends on a very high note for the audience, and what better time to include a big fat promo for Hooters.
Little Nicky (2000)
Five words say it all. “Popeyes Chicken is the shiznit!” Once again this is one of the most memorable scenes of the movie, but that’s not saying much.
Mr Deeds (2002)
Sandler plays Longfellow Deeds, a nice and normal guy who is the inheritor to a billion dollar fortune. In the movie, Deeds is on a helicopter ride to New York, and because he is such an average dude, he gets the uptight rich people on the chopper to stop and land somewhere to get some food. Where does Deeds get them to stop? Well he definitely doesn’t make them stop at Joe’s Automobile and Diner or Bubba’s Burger Joint because this is a character played by Adam Sandler and he happens to only likes big chain restaurants that are a part of major corporations. So we ultimately have a scene where Sandler and the uptight rich people are indulging on Wendy’s burgers and Frosties in a luxury private helicopter, smiling and loving life. Deeds even says, “I am so happy I got the Big Bacon Classic” and “How is that frosty treating you Cecil?”. Cecil proceeds to give Deeds a big thumbs up to indicate that ”This stuff is the bomb! Y’all need to get to Wendy’s ASAP!” There are additional scenes as well, such as Deeds happening to have a fountain that has Hawaiian Punch instead of water. Have fun with diabetes Deeds.
The Bed Bath and Beyond marketing team must have thrown a massive party with bodyshots and kegstands accompanied by gangster rap music upon hearing the news that Sandler’s 2006 movie would revolve around one of their nicely furnished stores. You know your product placement campaign is successful when the synopsis for the movie mentions your company’s name, and this is the case for Click. This movie is about an average working man Michael Newman, played by Sandler, who goes to Bed Bath and Beyond one night where he stumbles upon Christopher Walken who gives him a magical remote. Since Michael has problems with the remote he is required to repeatedly revisit Bed Bath and Beyond to talk to Walken, and in the process exposing the audience again and again to the company. Well done Bed Bath and Beyond, your company completely overshadows any other blatant product placement that this movie has. I wonder what came first. Did the writers for this movie decide that Sandler’s character would find the remote at Bed Bath and Beyond, or did the Bed Bath and Beyond marketing team just offer the production stacks of money to promote their company in the film forcing the writers to feature the company as a part of the plot? My guess is the latter.
This movie also started the precedent of Sandler being a family man with an amazing job, insanely hot wife, and lovely kids, yet he still manages to whine and moan like he has been diagnosed with terminal illness. This rant is for another time though.
Funny People (2009)
Adam Sandler’s character, George Simmons, does a comedy set at a Myspace employee party. It is probably safe to assume that this particular product placement wasn’t too successful with the movie going audience. In the movie, a comedian at this event yells “Fuck Facebook!” during his set accompanied by delightful roars from the audience composed of Myspace employees. What are they laughing and cheering about? Yes Myspace, you were king of social media in 2009, but look who is laughing now. Subtly putting down your competitors is a strong and effective form of marketing that can generally be considered fair game, but blatantly saying,“Fuck this company” is extremely unethical. I realize that it wasn’t a Myspace employee that said “Fuck Facebook”, but the fact is that they paid good money to have their company name and culture appear in this movie and were cool with this particular quote being in the movie. I am overreacting though, as it is just an unfunny part from a pointless movie.
Grown Ups (2010)
Kevin James is large. We get it! Yet, early in this movie Sandler’s character mocks his buddy played by Kevin James for eating too much KFC. Yes of course, KFC is probably one of the greasiest and highest calorie fast food restaurants around and it is funny because you can imagine a person of Kevin James’ size must consume plenty of it. Following Sandler’s unnecessarily humiliating KFC burn directed towards James in front of hundreds of people attending a funeral, they go on a canoe ride with the rest of the old crew to bury their youth basketball coach’s ashes, and what better way to enjoy a burial than to indulge in a big bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC. During the burial, Rob Schneider’s character gets so emotional that his ash-covered hands are nonsensically placed inside the bucket of chicken. James’ character then proceeds to eat the KFC despite the ashes being on it. Wow, Sandler wasn’t joking around. James really does love his KFC. He loves his KFC so much that the next scene features James wearing the KFC bucket over his head while dancing around like an idiot. KFC does a good job promoting their product in this movie, as they display that their chicken is so good that people are willing to eat it even with human remains on it. Also special shout out to the kid character in this movie who is obsessed with Voss water.
Jack and Jill (2011)
This is the film that pushed me over the edge and ultimately inspired me to write 2500 words on this pointless subject. Adam Sandler’s male character Jack happens to be an advertising executive… What does that mean? It means shameless product placement everywhere in this movie by means of in movie advertisements. The main story seriously revolves around Jack trying to get poor Al Pacino to act in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial. It is as if Sandler sat down with his producers one day to discuss how they were going to incorporate all of their sponsors in the movie, and then Sandler out of nowhere said “Hey, how about I play an advertising exec, that way we can show actual advertisements in the movie, yet it won’t look stupid because that is my character’s job.” What a creative genius!
That’s My Boy (2012)
In almost every scene of this movie Sandler’s character is holding a can of Budweiser. There is nothing to really analyse here, except that the can of Budweiser is one of the main characteristics of Sandler’s character.
Grown Ups 2 (2013)
I can’t believe that this movie is more highly regarded than Jack and Jill. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The movie is just a day in the life of four middle aged and out of shape losers who laugh at all of their own unfunny jokes expecting the audience to laugh with them. This movie also features fifteen minutes straight of product placement. While embarking on a random joyride on a school bus, Sandler and his three uncool buddies for no reason whatsoever decide that it would be a fun time to hang-out at the Kmart… Kmart? I am from Canada and I didn’t even know Kmart still existed. I thought it was the USA’s version of Eatons (only Canadians would know what Eatons is). Unsurprisingly the next fifteen minutes of the movie features the four obnoxious main characters roaming around Kmart (without buying anything might I add) and checking out all the cool stuff inside that they happen to have at low prices that aren’t quite as low as Wal-mart’s. This basically provides an opportunity for Kmart corporate to display, to the millions that watched this film, their stores’ interior and what great products they stock. Gullible moviegoers might say “Oh cool, that inflatable boat looks neat! I should buy the same one at Kmart.” and/or “Well Adam Sandler likes to go to Kmart, maybe I should too.”
The Benchwarmers (2006)
This is a bonus since Adam Sandler isn’t in this movie, but it is from his production company. I should briefly point out that this one is also loaded with product placement as you would expect, but as usual there is one that stands out above the rest. In this movie, the local hangout for everyone in the neighbourhood is a Pizza Hut, where one of the main nerd characters happens to fall in love and make-out with a hot middle-aged salad bar worker. Not only is Sandler’s product placement shameless, it also provides false hopes. Chicks who look like models and work at a Pizza Hut are one in a million. Maybe I am wrong though. Maybe there is an obscure Pizza Hut salad girl swimsuit pageant out there with hot chicks, similar to Hooters. On a side note, who the hell gets salad at Pizza Hut? The only times I go to Pizza Hut is when I am miserable and feel like pigging out on some absolute garbage food, not salad.