Discussing Mercedes and Jurassic World

So: Product placement. In a world where commercials have never been easier to skip, product placement in films is one of the few ways advertising can be consistently placed in front of captive audiences. Sometimes it’s subtle, but other times  the phrase “bashing the audience repeatedly over the head with a 10-ton anvil,” comes to mind.

Jurassic World is strange in this regard because, unlike most movies, it has a built-in reason for product placement to not only exist, but make sense and bolster the narrative. It makes complete sense, for instance, for there to be a Hilton or a Starbucks in the world’s biggest amusement park. The characters even point the absurdity of the corporate sponsorships for new species of dinosaurs by mockingly suggesting “Pepsisaurus” be next.

Hearing that Hilton, Starbucks, or Verizon are sponsoring exhibits at the park establishes that the park is letting money cloud its judgement, and the idea of corporations misusing science for their own selfish ends is one that’s been central to Jurassic Park from the very beginning, and the Pepsisaurus comment specifically calls attention to it.

Again and again, the movie is telling is that corporate greed undermines something potentially amazing.

Then, about halfway through, it proceeds to allow corporate greed to undermine something potentially amazing by un-ironically bombarding you with the Mercedes logo at every conceivable opportunity. We all know to expect product placement in movies, but there are limits, and cutting away from dinosaurs to lovingly pan over the Mercedes logo for the 75th time is one of them. I’m not kidding. Remember this scene from the trailer?

Look cool? Don't get used to it.

Look cool? Don’t get used to it.

In the movie, this shot lingers for a grand total of two seconds before speeding over to a nearby roadway to show us the very important establishing shot of Mercedes vehicles from the logo up. Let’s bask in the absurdity for a moment: The camera is pulling away from a bunch of dinosaurs to show us the Mercedes logo.

What’s so insane about this is that the movie called attention to product placement, made fun of it, even made it a plot point… and then not only played it straight, but went so over the top that you’d think you were watching a Saturday Night Live sketch.

I thought the Mercedes-flogging was as bad as it would get, but then Chris Pratt actually does the “time for a nice, refreshing beverage” coke gulp. You know that weird, uncomfortable-looking way people hold soda bottles in commercials? The way no one in human history has every actually held one? He does that. It’s Wayne’s World-level ridiculous, except it’s not supposed to be funny.

My inner five year-old is going to see this movie because of the dinosaurs. Not Mercedes, not Margaritaville, not Coca Cola, and not Verizon Wireless. I’m absolutely perplexed that any of these companies thought this sort of intrusion was a good idea when there were so many other options available.