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An Annotated History of Product Placement in the Transformers Series

on June 22, 2017, 12:00am

Transformers (2007)

The United States Military

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This is the only time I’ll go for this joke, but the first two series entries particularly emphasize the hardware, grit, and indomitable power of the American military in all its forms. The first is especially pronounced about it, with Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson functioning as two of the film’s ostensible leads, the last time in the series they’d be focused upon to this degree.

HP/Cisco

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Get ready, because this’ll be a series hallmark soon enough: the 2-in-1 ad placement. BRANDCEPTION.

Porsche

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When you’re making the cinematic equivalent of a midlife crisis, drive Porsche!

Gilmore Gasoline

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Because why should branding have to stop at things you can actually go out and buy today?

1977 Chevrolet Camaro

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And now, a decade-old hot take: this is a way cooler Camaro than the one Bumblebee assimilates later in the movie.

eBay

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Get it? e-Bay? We like to have fun here.

In all seriousness, though, Bay gets the triple-strike on this one: it’s a pun, an ad placement, and Shia LaBeouf even shouts out both eBay and Paypal (its payment system circa 2007) aloud about five minutes before this scene.

Hummer H3

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The fact that these silly goddamn things were ever a sign of virility will tell you everything you ever needed to know about who’s still watching these movies a decade later.

Also, for the love of Christ: please don’t bring these back ironically, America. There are some bells you can’t unring.

GPX Boombox

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By far the least well-aged of all the Transformers ad buys, this portable music device hearkens back to a different time, when we had to insert physical things into other physical things like a bunch of savages.

The Strokes

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In The Modern Age, with a filmmaker whose work leaves most viewers feeling like they could Take It or Leave It, it’s Hard to Explain how a director like Bay would Someday make billions for Paramount by selling Barely Legal girls as leads until most audiences were left asking “Is This It”.

Burger King

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Because the local BK is often a cultural cornerstone in the lives of high school-aged women.

DeWalt

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If you’re going to kill a sentient robot being with any power saw, make sure it’s a DeWalt.

2006 Chevrolet Camaro

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It’s actually worse in context; the above still is the result of the Camaro slowly rolling into the shot, because people love being sold shit in the middle of a film for which they paid their $9. (Oh, when seeing a movie was still a single-digit expense.)

My Little Pony

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And that was the last time on public record that the show’s actual child demographic was the target audience for its plushies.

Cadillac/GMC/Hummer

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Of all the car joints in all the towns in all the world, they landed atop mine.

Pontiac Solstice GXP

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Same scene, but there’s something about literally displaying a car on its own labeled shelf that warrants its own mention.

Washington Redskins

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If you’re Bay, and you’re gonna push an NFL franchise, why not make it the most racist one with the owner who hates his fans the most?

(Clinton Portis was the truth, though.)

Nokia

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Not only is a Nokia cell phone turned into a violent robot, but there’s even a discussion about the brand’s Finnish origins while it’s happening.

Baskin-Robbins

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For all your Decepticone needs.

Xbox 360

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To conclude our time with the first film, a trio of things that are not killer robots being turned into killer robots by the All Spark. First up, a 360, complete with the signature “power on” audio cue.

Mountain Dew

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Yep, this thing becomes a Transformer just a split second after this lingering product shot.

Cadillac Escalade

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The moment that this logo latches onto this attractive, young woman’s face is the exact moment at which “on the nose” loses all meaning.

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