It was the casual reference to a branded hayfever remedy on the new Art Brut album (Art Brut vs Satan, out now) that led to a protracted office debate about the shady practice of shameless product plugs.
The worst offenders are all from the world of film. So, in no particular order, here are the five most shameless brand endorsements of all time:
1 The Fantastic Four (2005) - this excremental superhero caper sinks further into a bottomless abyss of advertainment when the lead characters scrap against a backdrop of oversized ad hoardings. Cue human fireball Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) being hurled against a Burger King poster, conveniently torching the giant image of a Flamin’ Whopper in the process.
2 Casino Royale (2006) - the Bond franchise has made no secret of its cash-for-products fundraising measures, but Daniel Craig’s inaugural outing contained more ads than a duty free hall, flagrantly touting Ford, Omega, Smirnoff, Sony, One & Only resorts, and Virgin Atlantic (to name but a few). British Airways allegedly responded by having the pointless Richard Branson cameo cut from the film on all its flights.
3 I, Robot (2004) - if you missed Will Smith scrutinising his Converse All Stars high-tops early on in this futuristic thriller (before describing them as a “thing of beauty”), worry not. Two other characters are thoughtful enough to make special mention of the “vintage 2004” trainers later in the film. But the award for best supporting product goes to Audi, whose RSQ concept car enjoyed a whole nine minutes of screen time.
4 Spider-Man (2002) - ‘If Carlsberg made Hollywood blockbusters…’ Just in case you didn’t see the familiar green and white logo the first time Spider Man (Tobey Maguire) landed on the beer truck, he’s kind enough to leap back onto it a second time for good measure. In an earlier scene meanwhile, Maguire can be found firing his spider junk at a carefully positioned can of Dr Pepper.
5 Wayne’s World (1992) - though intended to lampoon the concept of brand placement, when Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) tells crooked network executive Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) that "Contract or no, I will not bow to any corporate sponsor," he gives the film’s producers free reign to endorse Pizza Hut, Doritos, Reebok, Nuprin, and Pepsi, all under the convenient banner of satire of course. Watch it here in all its knowing glory.