Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Just because The Truman Show spoofs the entertainment industry’s blatant product promotion doesn’t mean the filmmakers weren’t above doing it themselves. And the Truman product plugs are much slicker than those depicted in the movie’s fictional TV show, in which Truman’s wife anxiously plugs “Mococoa” drink mix and his best friend shills “Penn Pavel’s” beer.

Instead, the real sponsors who made deals with Paramount include Ford (Truman drives a Taurus, while best friend Marlon drives a Ranger), Zenith (the television watched by the fictional TV show’s audience), Schwinn (the bikes ridden by Truman and his wife), and Hunt’s (about the only identifiable ketchup brand during a grocery store scene).

Of course, Truman isn’t the only summer movie that blurs the line between art and commerce. While Touchstone Pictures wasn’t able to disclose any arrangements for product placements in Armageddon, the companies independently confirmed agreements, even though they wouldn’t reveal the terms. Brands include Srixon (golf balls), Coca-Cola, Tag Heuer (watches), Nokia (mobile phones), and BMW, whose blue-and-white-checkered insignia can be seen in the background during a passionate moment between Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck. Similarly, for “The X-Files,” Twentieth Century Fox negotiated product placements with Casio (watches), Nokia, and Oldsmobile, which, in turn, uses images from “The X-Files” to advertise its Intrigue luxury car.

Even when there’s no commercial deal set up, studios will still try to get permission to use certain names, in order to avoid legal hassles. So when Touchstone Pictures asked Greenpeace if it could depict the group in Armageddon, spokesman Andrew Davies says the organization agreed, provided the group’s membership was not portrayed negatively and was shown using a favorite slogan: “No new oil.” Greenpeace got what it asked for–along with the movie’s oil-drilling, asteroid-bombing lead, played by Bruce Willis, whacking (Srixon) golf balls at the protesters.

Still, not every movie product has a price tag attached. In Bulworth, Warren Beatty’s Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth pulls into a Kentucky Fried Chicken and downs a bucketful of poultry–and KFC didn’t pay a dime. “Bulworth was a freebie,” says KFC spokesman Michael Tierney. In fact, Tierney says the chicken maker doesn’t usually try to plug KFC in movies. “Our core folks tend to watch more television,” he explains.

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate