A Selection of Brands’ Responses to Their Products’ Depiction on TV and Film


Placing brand named products on either the big or small screen can be a tricky feat. Even if a movie or TV show is actually being sponsored by a particular company and is contractually bound to include them in the script, the company isn’t always happy with the way it’s represented. But the stakes can be even higher when products or references appear without the brand’s consent, especially if the corporate powers that be think they’re being shown in a negative light. After the jump, inspired by Jaguar’s perturbed response to their inclusion in last week’s Mad Men, we’ve collected a selection of amusing brand responses to their portrayal on TV and film.

Jaguar and Mad Men

If you saw the last episode of Mad Men on Sunday night, you’ll know that Jaguar execs didn’t exactly come out of it looking like saints. Between (spoiler alert) the car’s positioning as a frivolous “mistress,” the eerily misogynist pitch (“At last, something beautiful you can truly own”), and the company’s own Herb Rennet, who demanded a night with Joan in exchange for considering said pitch, we’re guessing not a whole lot of people ended that episode with a more positive view of the company. Still, Jaguar doesn’t seem wholly unsatisfied with its role; after the show premiered, a representative tweeted, “Loved the pitch, didn’t love the process,” and then “We applaud Peggy leaving SCDP,” a reference to the character’s new position at another firm.

Insinkerator and Heroes

Back during the first season of the jam-packed superhero drama Heroes, indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet (played by Hayden Panettiere) stuck her hand in a sink to retrieve a ring and got it chewed off by the garbage disposal, only to have it magically healed seconds later before her eyes. This angered the manufacturer of the Insinkerator, which sued NBC for a portrayal it claimed “casts the disposer in an unsavory light, irreparably tarnishing the product.” OK, but did anybody really think prior to this episode that it was okay to stick your hand in a disposal while it’s running? It would have been a bigger problem if the Insinkerator hadn’t mutilated Claire.


Louis Vuitton and The Hangover II

Louis Vuitton has a history of being very protective of its branding, so it’s not really surprising that they would target Warner Brothers with a lawsuit for including a not-so-subtle reference to a knockoff handbag — which Zach Galiafinakis refers to as a “Lewis Vuitton” — in their latest Hangover movie, claiming that the scene “violated and diluted its mark.” There’s been no word yet on the suit’s outcome, but considering that the studio can’t decided whether or not it actually intended for the bag to be a knockoff item within the context of the film, it’s not looking good.

Abercrombie & Fitch and Jersey Shore

Apparently Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s Jersey Shore fame loves his Abercombie & Fitch sweatpants, and for a while it seemed like the clothing company loved him right back – their “Fitchuation” shirt was incredibly popular at retail locations. Of course, that didn’t stop Abercrombie from biting the orange, overly muscled hand that fed it the next summer when the company released a statement pleading with Sorrentino to stop wearing its swag, even offering him money to stay away and stop tarnishing their image. Considering the brand’s history with The Situation, this was an obvious publicity stunt, but it amused us nonetheless.

Fedex and Castaway

In addition to being the world’s longest, strangest commercial for Wilson volleyballs, Castaway heavily features the company Fedex, for which Tom Hank’s character works. This wasn’t really product placement, though – Fedex didn’t pay a dime for the publicity, and had “a heart attack at first” over the premise that one of their planes might crash on a deserted island. Once they agreed to have their name used, though, they loved the film, and CEO Fred Smith even agreed to a cameo at the end of the movie at Fedex’s actual headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.

Starbucks and Fight Club

You’d probably imagine that Starbucks hated the David Fincher-directed movie about mindless consumerism and corporate evils, but they actually didn’t have too much of a problem being name dropped several times in Brad Pitt’s rants. (According to Fincher, in fact, there is a Starbucks cup hidden in the background of literally every single frame of the film.) However, at the last minute they pulled out of the movie’s pièce de coffee-related résistance, the scene in which a cafe gets destroyed by a giant globe. The name of the coffee shop was noticeably absent as a result, but come on — we all know what’s really happening.