Top 10 Stupidest Marketing Tie-In Products Ever


Most people don’t really like advertising. It’s usually seen as an annoyance to be avoided. It can be hard to avoid though, when it’s integrated directly into entertainment via product placement. It can be jarring to be in the middle of what seems like something created merely for entertainment purposes and then having an ad for something slipped in purely for profits sake. Doesn’t it make you angry? Maybe you should eat the pain away with a McDonald’s double cheeseburger? It’s delicious cow meat blends perfectly with the sumptuous cow cheese. Yummy. Anyways, here’s the list …

10. Dark Vador Burger


Now, don’t misunderstand, we’re big fans of Darth Vader. And we’re not really opposed to hamburgers either. But, well, the two really shouldn’t be combined. A European fast food restaurant called Quick (quite an accurate name for a fast food restaurant) announced a tie-in with the 3D release of The Phantom Menace. And much like said movie, it was sadly misguided. First off, they called it a Dark Vador burger. Dark Vador? Putting the misspelling aside, Darth Vader is just a little kid in Episode One. And yet in their ads he’s already in a big black suit. Most importantly, the buns on this thing just look inedible, kind of like they’d been burned in a lava pit. They look a lot worse on the inside, much like poor Anakin.

9. Product-Themed Coffins


For some extreme fans, what they like becomes their life. Their house is filled with Simpsons dolls, they ordered the chair from the deck of the Starship Enterprise, or the water in their pool is red, like in The Ten Commandments. What could go beyond this extreme fandom? How to make the ultimate statement of brand loyalty? Well, you could make the brand part of your afterlife, with product themed coffins. There’re sports coffins, music coffins, candy coffins, and just about anything else you can think of. After all, just because your heart stops doesn’t mean your consumerism has to.

8. McDonald’s Wizard of Oz Dolls


The Wizard of Oz came out back in 1939. In 2007 McDonald’s decided, for no apparent reason, to release a line of Oz dolls to be sold with Happy Meals. For some reason, they picked very strange designs with lifeless eyes. This was years before the new Oz movie came out, and so we can only assume they heard about that show on HBO called Oz, and decided that Dorothy must be in with the kids. If you’re upset that you missed out, don’t worry — you can still buy these dolls on Ebay.

7. Sherlock Holmes sells Coffee and Taquitos


7-11 had a Sherlock Holmes tie-in with their coffee. The sleeve had clues on it that customers could use to figure out some mystery. We somehow don’t fully buy the connection between an old-timey English gentleman and 7-11, but whatever. Maybe the Sherlock from the BBC modernization would make an occasional trip to 7-11, but that’s not the one on the advertisement. Holmes was also on posters proposing people buy Taquitos. The mystery: What’s in a Taquito?

6. Just a Ton of Mr. T Products


Mr.T has been a minor celebrity and fool pityer since back in the ’80s, when he starred in Rocky 3 and The A-Team. Now, not often are there product tie-ins for individual actors, but Mr. T was able to break through and have products designed with him in mind. There are tons of these, including the Mr. T Chia pet (Mr. Tia?), a Mr. T rubber ducky, and the Mr. T air freshener. He’ll beat the odor out of the air!

5. Little Nicky Hawks Popeyes Chicken


Every company asks the question “How can we best advertise the idea that our product is a good choice?” Well, Popeye’s decided the answer was to associate their product with the Prince of Darkness himself. They did this by cutting a product placement deal that put their chicken in the Adam Sandler movie Little Nicky. In the film, Adam Sandler plays one of the sons of Satan. In the first scene, the spawn of the devil is sitting on a park bench with some chicken and a talking dog. Apparently, demons don’t need to eat, so he has no idea what to do with the fried chicken. The dog tells him to “Let the meat slide down your throat hole.” He obeys for some reason, and then realizes how great it taste. He exclaims, “Popeye’s chicken is f****** awesome.” What great advertising! “The literal spawn of Satan loves our food. Why don’t you try some?”

4. Endless Product Placement in Books


Throughout history, books have been primarily ad-free. However, there has been a trend recently of authors signing deals with companies to include references to their products in their books. And more and more reading is being done electronically. How long will it be before you must watch an ad before starting a new chapter? Granted, they had ads in comic books but it was usually for cool stuff like, well, other comic books, and you could always skip over them if you wanted. Now, however, if an ad is on an electronic device or embedded in the very story that you read, you’re trapped.

3. Metal Gear Solid Endorses Random Products Because “Surprise”


Video games often have tie-ins out in the world that you run into. But more rarely is it seen within the game itself. TV has had products placed in them before in exchange for money. Well, now you can have advertising shoved into your gaming experience as well. The game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has several products put into the game that their badass hero character can find in the jungle, such as Mountain Dew, Doritos, and Pepsi. While this occurring isn’t really surprising by itself (it was kind of inevitable), what is kind of surprising is the explanation given by the developer. Hideo Kojima explained, “It’s because I want to surprise players. If there’s no surprise or freshness, then I’ll stop the tie-ins.” Yes, that’s totally the kind of surprise that excites people.

2. Bruce Lee Loves Him Some Johnnie Walker


In this ad, a computer rendition of Bruce Lee gives a vague speech that’s obviously supposed to be inspiring. He starts off talking about how dragons never die “because dragons draw power from water”. Everything else that uses water dies, though. But, we suppose the dragons use the water some other way. Some sort of immortal way. Bruce then tells us to never follow the rules. As in never. Not even if it’s a rule you agree with. He tells us to be like water and then asks us a bunch of rhetorical questions meant to get us riled up and ready to succeed.  At this point, out of nowhere the screen switches to a bottle of Johnnie Walker. What’s weird about this was the Lee wasn’t a drinker. At least not towards the end of his life. His drinking caused problems when he was young, and so he gave it up completely. So, a dead guy who didn’t drink tries to sell us booze by talking to us about water. OK, we get it. It makes perfect sense.

1. The Bad Guys From Evolution Steal Head and Shoulders for World Domination


The main villains in the movie Evolution were aliens. The main characters (a couple of “scientists”) decide they must destroy them. But how? One of them sees a periodic chart on the back of a T-shirt and notices that arsenic (which poisons humans) is a certain number of elements away from carbon (what humans are made of). And so, he decides to just look for the same pattern for the aliens. The aliens are nitrogen-based, and so he determines that selenium will kill the aliens.

But where are they going to get enough selenium? By buying up all the Head and Shoulders in the county, of course! They are told that selenium is the active ingredient in the shampoo by two guys who certainly don’t have the best hair in the room. That would be the girl who the scientist tries to trick into taking her shirt off. We wonder what kind of shampoo she uses? Anyways, they know because they use Head and Shoulders all the time, and apparently read the ingredients while bathing. So, Head and Shoulders shampoo is used by a couple of guys with average hair and it’s going to be used to wipe out an entire alien race. This scene certainly didn’t help bolster their sales to any nitrogen-based life forms, and probably didn’t make any of us carbonites want to buy any either.

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  1. In France, even in the movie it’s not Darth Vader but Dark Vador and the burger was disgusting

  2. The McDonalds dolls are meant to be Madame Alexander dolls dressed as Wizard of Oz.