Although you may never see any Burger King advertisements in artsy, avant-garde French movies, that doesn't product placements can't be done creatively—even humorously!
Sure, most product placements are extremely lazy and slotted into the background, hoping to embed themselves in your subconscious without too much fuss. But when it's done well, you almost don't mind.
Here are some of the most creative and iconic examples of product placement in cinema that integrated themselves in clever ways.
10. Nokia Phone (The Matrix)
Ah, the 1990s—the age of the flip phone. Also, The Matrix.
In 1999, Nokia released one of the first-ever internet-capable mobiles, which Neo (Keanu Reeves) uses to enter the digital world in The Matrix. This was back when Nokia, not Apple, was champion of cell phones!
The close-up of Neo's hand with the Nokia 8110 model—and the shot of it falling slow-motion from a high-rise—made it rocket in sales.
Even today, in the era of touchscreen iPhones, Pixels, and Galaxies, the original Nokia remains pretty expensive because of The Matrix.
9. McDonald's (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
McDonald's has appeared in tons of movies, including Big Daddy (1999), All the President's Men (1976), Sleeper (1973), Richie Rich (1994), and The Pink Panther (2006), but never as obviously as in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
In this scene, Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth are sitting at a table as a silver platter is wheeled in. Tense music builds, the platter cover is lifted... and there's an assortment of McDonald's underneath.
Some viewers thought this scene cheapened the movie, while others admired its satire. "I'll have the Big Mac, please." Make that two!
8. Reese's Pieces (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)
Reese's Pieces probably wouldn't exist today if it wasn't for Steven Spielberg. The candy doesn't play a huge role in the movie—young Elliot (Henry Thomas) uses it to lure his alien buddy into his house—but it was notable enough to boost sales and out of imminent danger.
Originally, M&M's were supposed to be used, but Mars, Inc. refused on the basis that E.T. might scare children. So, Hershey's gladly took up the offer, mainly because one of Universal's vice presidents asked their son what he would use as bait.
Sales of Reese's Pieces tripled within two weeks of the premiere of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (helped along by a series of TV ads for the film).
7. Nike (Back to the Future)
Back to the Future was so influential that it made us want to buy a pair of sneakers that didn't even exist yet!
Back in the 1980s, Universal's idea of what 2015 would look like ended up being simultaneously more advanced and super old-fashioned compared to what would actually transpire.
One of their many predictions involved futuristic Nike sneakers that tied themselves once you inserted your feet.
Technically, Nike's power laces actually do exist today... but they cost $20,000 so don't expect to snag a copy yourself.
Of course, you can instead get the actual sneakers worn by Marty (Michael J. Fox) in the film: white leather Nike Bruins with a red tick, which were re-released for Back to the Future's 35th anniversary.
6. FedEx (Cast Away)
FedEx left nothing to chance when they were featured in Robert Zemeckis's survival drama Cast Away.
An entire team of FedEx marketers were present during production, with planes, trucks, boxes, and uniforms seen throughout the film.
The big finale of Cast Away was even filmed at one of FedEx's home facilities in Tennessee—and the CEO even appears for a cameo.
It's surprising to learn that FedEx paid absolutely zilch to star in Cast Away. But, then again, the whole movie is based around a plane crash, which could have been terrible for their reputation. (It wasn't.)
5. Nike (Forrest Gump)
Before Tom Hanks played the stranded FedEx systems analyst in Cast Away, he ran a three-year-long marathon as Forrest Gump.
Whatever Forrest lacked in IQ, he made up for in speed (and good luck). So, in Forrest Gump, he's overjoyed to receive a pair of fresh Nike Cortez trainers from the love of his life.
"Mama always said there's an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes: where they're going, where they've been."
Originally released in 1972, these sneakers have gone in and out of production, but they can be found today via online retailers.
4. Aston Martin (Goldfinger)
The James Bond movie franchise has had one of the longest-standing product collaborations in cinema, with the Aston Martin DB5 first appearing in 1964's Goldfinger.
Since the DB5's initial introduction, it has always been the model most associated with the world-famous spy. In the most recent installment No Time to Die (2021), other models—such as the Aston Martin DBS V12—have made an appearance.
Overall, Bond just seems to like fancy rides in general, with BMW, Jaguar, Bentley, and Ford all getting a slice of the action here and there.
3. White Castle (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle)
You don't have to look far to find the product placement in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. In fact, you don't even need to watch the movie! It's right there in the title.
And the title of Danny Leiner's stoner comedy also gives us the synopsis: two guys head out to grab a bite at the White Castle fast food chain. Well, at least they try to.
After smoking weed, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) decide that only White Castle burgers will satisfy their munchies. Their journey is interrupted by a raccoon, a car crash, a prison break, an escaped cheetah, a foursome, and a hospital visit.
2. LEGO (The LEGO Movie)
The LEGO Movie is literally one feature-length product placement, but it's so funny and so well-made that we don't care.
Chris Pratt voices a LEGO man in a LEGO universe, who turns out to be "the chosen one" that must save the entire brick-based city. LEGO Batman, LEGO Gandalf, LEGO "1980s-something-space-guy," and even a LEGO Milhouse all appear to help save the world.
Will Ferrell plays "The Man Upstairs," meaning the guy who's building this LEGO kingdom in his basement. The 3D animation is impressive enough that we'll forgive the film for getting the song "Everything Is Awesome" stuck in our heads for months on end.
1. Pizza Hut, Doritos, Reebok, Nuprin, Pepsi (Wayne's World)
If you thought Kingsman: The Secret Service was too on-the-nose, be aware that it has nothing on this scene from Wayne's World.
The most infamous product placement scene is one big satire of movie sponsors, in which Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) refuse to "sell out" and advertise any product on their TV show.
"I will not bow to any sponsor," Wayne argues—all while opening up a Pizza Hut box and smiling to the camera.
"It's like people only do things because they get paid," Garth agrees—all while covered head-to-toe in Reebok logos.
The segment plays out like this, with Wayne holding up multiple products to the camera, including Pepsi cans and Nuprin pills.