Superbad. Practically every young person in America has seen it, but do we even realize what’s in the stuff that we’re watching?
Superbad is a humorous movie about three high school boys who try to buy enough alcohol to supply a house party and hopefully get laid, but problems arise, and we watch as they struggle to make it to the party in one piece.
Sure, it seems like this movie is pure entertainment. But the truth is, we take a lot more away from such movies than we are aware of.
As you walk out of the movie theater, you talk amongst your friends about the funniest part, an unexpected twist in the plot, or your favorite character. Afterwards, you know that the movie probably taught you some overall moral or lesson.
But underneath all of that, I’ll bet that you have never noticed that the movie is more than just a few hours of entertainment. It’s a cleverly planned advertising ploy as well.
To start, within the first minute of the movie, the main character pours himself a bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal. Within the next few minutes, he enters a convenience store with his friend, and we see product labels emerging in every direction.
His friend buys a Red Bull energy drink, and they walk through aisles selling Doritos, Puffs tissues and Skittles. Each product, in the hand of an actor or just in the background, is a tiny advertisement.
These types of every day items, particularly snack foods, were chosen to appeal to the movie’s target audience, which is young people. They are the major consumers of snack products, so viewing them in movies can encourage them to continue buying them.
As the movie progressed, I noticed that several of the characters who played the part of bullies were wearing Puma and Nike brand t-shirts, portraying an athletic, tough-guy image for that brand.
From the start, I knew that there would be a lot of alcohol shown throughout the movie. But to my surprise, most of the bottles of alcohol didn’t have labels on them. Some, on the other hand, were fake brands, like “Goldslick,” which strongly resembled a bottle of Goldschlager. Or, they mentioned “Kyle’s Killer Lemonade,” instead of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
The only visible label that was a legitimate brand was Old Milwaukee beer, which appeared several times throughout the movie.
I began to wonder, in a movie so focused on alcohol, why wasn’t I seeing more brands? In such a popular movie, why wouldn’t companies be fighting over the chance to have Superbad’s famous character McLovin drinking their beer?
It didn’t seem to make any sense, but then it hit me. Superbad is a movie about underage drinking. One kid bought the alcohol using a fake ID, and everyone at the high school party was clearly under 21 years of age.
It’s possible that alcohol companies didn’t want to advertise in a movie that encourages underage drinking, because that could give a company a bad image. They wouldn’t want to be known as the company that provides alcohol for underage kids.
So, rather than choosing real brands to advertise in the movie, producers made up their own fictitious beer brands to use instead.
It was definitely interesting to watch a movie like Superbad with the perspective of an advertiser in mind. I definitely think I’ll be keeping an eye out for all of those little advertising opportunities during the next movies that I watch.