Like many of you, on July 4th I saw the longest commercial ever produced: Transformers. This 2-hour, 20-minute commercial, brought to you by DreamWorks Pictures, a division of Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Hasbro (NYSE: HAS), and various sponsors, truly raised the bar for special effects in advertisements.
The most incredible part of this story: I actually paid to watch this commercial. Like TiVo, only backward. Apparently, my friends and I weren't the only ones who walked into the trap, as the film has already grossed nearly $66 million heading into its first weekend. Somewhere, a Hasbro executive is smiling mischievously.
Foremost among the film's legion of product placements was General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , which seemingly managed to pimp every car in its lineup, including the admittedly sweet-looking new Camaro. I can't explain why, but I found the idea of warring galactic robots choosing Earth as the site of their final battle more plausible than so many people in one city driving a GM auto.
As over-the-top as GM's placements were, they paled in comparison to the gratuitous sequences plugging Nokia, Microsoft, and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP ) , which featured a death-dealing Mountain Dew vending machine/robot. The vending machine robot was a real showstopper, firing cans of Dew at bullet-like speeds. Along with several of the film's plot points, the fate of the violent Mountain Dew machine is unknown. Presumably, it is still wandering the streets, hurling cans of extreme cola at unsuspecting civilians.
I'm really hoping the Mountain Dew machine survives to see the likely sequel. I can see it now: A roguish loner with a heart of gold, but who is too much of a nonconformist to team up with the straight-laced Autobots. He finally caves, though, and helps the Autobots to vanquish evil and save humanity, in the process delivering vast quantities of ice-cold Mountain Dew to the human populace before retreating to his alternative, snow-boarding lifestyle.
Who knows, maybe in the sequel he'll have a rival who fires Coke bottles. Given the amount of product placement in the first film, you certainly can't rule it out.
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