Transformers: Product Placement Overkill


I went to see “Transformers” last week, along with most of America, it seems. General Motors went all out to promote its cars in “Transformers,” but in the end, it left a far worse taste in my mouth than Ford did when it populated “Casino Royale” with largely Ford Motor cars.

In “Casino,” James Bond drives the classic Bond Aston Martin (stolen from one of the bad guys, of course) and a new custom Aston Martin, he’s surrounded in a parking lot by Fords, Mercurys, Land Rovers, Jaguars, etc. It was subtle, and something that only a car fan would notice.

In “Transformers,” though, there’s a scene where the good-guy robots go looking for cars to emulate, and suddenly the movie turns into a string of GM commercials worthy of Super Bowl Sunday. The gratuitous lingering on nameplates and logos turned the action flick into a two-hour-long GM ad.

The Camaro that’s due next year came off as very cool (although, personally, I preferred the “Rockford Files”-era Camaro that the main characters derided as a POS, but that’s me) and I’m excited to see the real thing hit the road. The souped-up Pontiac Solstice was also pretty sweet; I hope GM decides to market a model based on how the movie version looked.

Overall, though, I felt as though GM had picked my pocket by shoving its products down my throat. The automaker — and the moviemakers — should have opted for a little more subtlety.

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By Patrick Olsen | July 9, 2007 | Comments (18)
Tags: Pop Culture


Perhaps the fact that you liked both the Camaro and Jazz Solstice means that GM did its job?

The company was approached by Michael Bay for the vehicles. Instead of writing about over kill, I think had GM said "no thanks" instead we would all be writing about how GM made yet another dumb mistake by not taking Bay up on his offer.

The movie grossed $68 Million in its first weekend open. They did something right.


Im a HUGE transformers fan (cartoon), but the product placement was rather shameless. It was almost as obvious as the joke in Wayne's World where he says "I will never bow to a corporate sponsor" then looks directly at the camera and says "Pepsi the choice of a new generation" while smiling and holding the can.
Although this isnt the first time GM has used a movie as a plug, remember Matrix Reloaded? Check out the chase scene cars and the release of the then new cadillac, all GM save for the crown vics the cops were driving.
The scene where autobot Jazz found his car form was way too obvious. The store sign said Cadillac but in the windows was a bunch of new GM models from across the product line. Hummer, Saturn and of course pontiac with its solstice written in big letters rotating on a platform. May as well have put up the car specs, pricing and a limited time apr for qualified buyers while he scanned the thing. At that point it was so obvious, why not go the full monty? But I can't really hate on GM, they saw an opportunity and took it. It was the director and production company that made the contract and decisions on how to film it. At least Michael Bay didn't approach Volkswagen. Sure Bumblebee would have actually been a beetle but Prime could have ended up as a VW Toureg, hehe. Other offenders of product placement were just terrible in the climax of the movie with the XBox 360 becoming some sort of half-assed transforming... well box and the Mountain Dew vending machine coming to life and attacking people. BTW what the hell happened to those bots? Never really showed it, or what happened to Brawl the police car did they? Again something I can blame on poor directing. But I digress, this is a car blog and not a movie review. Although for the record I loved the action and special effects, but the story and the late intro of key characters just blew. Ah well I guess you cant expect an epic tale from a summer action flick.

VW wouldn't allow the filmmakers to use a Beetle because of the violence in the movie.


no brand bashing!!!!!!!!!!!

I believe it is Michael Bay bashing.

Joel, I agree with you that the GM cars showcased left an impression, and a generally positive one about the cars. But I also agree with Phaeton about the Matrix sequel, where GM pulled off product placement in a way that showcased their cars without using a 2-by-4 to my noggin. I don't blame GM for trying the approach; I wish Michael Bay would have shown some restraint (which typically isn't in his DNA).


Didn't Rockford drive a Pontiac Firebird?

that's why he said "Rockford-esque"


I think that product placement is a self-regulating trend that generally abides to certain unspoken rules of decency. In this case however, some time spent on product placement could have been alloted to finish that one scene at the dam that they seem to have just forgotten about. And editing out relevant scenes to make room for unnecessary product placement is inexcusable.


Thanks for letting me know ahead of time so that there is one less choice of movies for me this weekend.

Regardless of that the fact that it was product placement overkill, still a good dang movie, specially when bumblebee beats barricade. yes im a camaro fan but i have yet to get me one :(

Juan Carlos

not for nothing, but it is a "car" movie. perhaps a honda in the background would have been nice, but is a car vs airplane thing you know.


Consider it branded content. Was it a gratuitous Army movie as well? Or an over the top US Government movie. All were equally shown for over 2 hours. How about Nokia since cellphones were scattered throughout the movie and they actually SAID Nokia. I don't remember ever hearing GMC, Ponitac or any other car brand referenced, Just badging and if the major characters are the cars. Just a hunch.


I loved this movie, even after the Solstice was on screen on the spinning stand with the sign reading "Pontiac Solstice," my friend still asked what kind of car that was. Haha, and another loves LOVES the huge black GMC truck. I though it was great, better than looking at a ton of Fords, although Dodge maybe could've handled it!!

Andy Halmay

Product placement-schmasement. There is so much of it these days and much of it is a total waste of the advertiser's money. This led me to develop "THE P.P. GUY" - a TV series about a product placement agent who struggles to get products exposed on TV and in films. Of course the products in the stories are real product placements but the approach comes with more honesty and lots of laughs. Look for the show next TV season.


A 2 hour gm/army commercial. Only reason to go see it is for the special effects. Not true to transformers fans.

Cordelia Maweni

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Cordelia Maweni, I am a South African and grew up in the rural area. I grew up and still stay in Cala town in the former Transkei region situated in the Eastern Cape.

I am HIV + and also a mother of two daughters. The first born (13) has no father as the father died in 1999 whilst the last born (3) her father has no means of funding them.

I would like your help. I am looking for a job and have not found anything up till now and my children are dying of hunger. My first born has to start high school next year and I don't have money for her school fees. I owe more R9000 of school fees for my first born and also the baby needs money for school and feeding.

Clothing is a very sensitive issue, because they're always laughed by friends. Because of my HIV status, my family has neglected me and disowned me and I moved to the Johannesburg to try and look for something for my children. Because of the health I am unable to stay in one job for more than 3 months because I am always sick.

If you can be able to help me with clothes, school fees and medicine for my status. If you are touched you can donate anything to us. Either deposit some money for us even if its R100 its a lot of money. Or you can all me and discuss on how you would like to help us.

My main concern is my children's education and clothing. You can deal directly with the schools to know how much I owe. We are living in a mall flat which a friend has been helping me to rent for us. If there's anyway you can help even if you donate some accommodation for us.

I pray to God that this letter will be received by a compassionate person who will
open his/her heart for us.
Tel: +27 83 868 4055
Acc No: 4066953081
Bank: Absa
Branch: Fourways
Name: CN Maweni

Thank you for not deleting and reading it through, if you know of anyone that can help us please forward this letter to the person.

God bless you as you render help to us.

Cordelia Maweni
+27 83 868 4055

ian matthew

the transformers is beautiful

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