We enter the scene with Chris Pratt’s character in front of his old aluminum trailer beside a serene lakeside. He’s tinkering with some bolts on his trusty motorcycle – a brand-new 2015 Triumph Scrambler. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character comes speeding up the road and then steps out of her powerful SUV – a 2015 Mercedes Benz GLE Coupe. Bryce strides over to Chris, and informs him that the park needs his assistance in inspecting a cage for their new dinosaur. Chris takes a moment away from his motorcycle, looks defiantly up at Bryce, and takes a swig from a cold glass bottle of … Coca-Cola.
Jurassic World, according to Forbes, will easily surpass $1.55+ billion at the box office, surpassing Avengers to take the number 3 spot on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time, right behind Avatar and Titanic.
My question is, how much did Jurassic World make in product placement deals? I don’t think that this statistic is publicly available, but it’s likely that the answer is: a lot.
Of course, some level of logos in a movie is necessary, simply to reflect the saturation of corporations in our daily life. Of course a luxury theme park would have a Hilton, a few Starbucks locations, a futuristic exhibition center sponsored by Samsung, and a contract with an automaker like Mercedes for vehicles. If all these items were unbranded, the audience would have to try harder to suspend disbelief.
This bounty of product placement actually continues on the legacy of the original 1993 Jurassic Park film, as The Washington Post points out, with its awesomely-painted Ford Explorers and Jeep Wranglers, its subtle inclusion of Nikon Cameras and Jolt Cola, and its accidentally huge promotion of Barbasol shaving cream.
A lot of film technology has evolved in 27 years, and product placement is no exception. Logos get even more fetishized treatment and even bolder camera focus. At some points, this film goes a little beyond the calling of good storytelling in it’s corporate tie-ins, occasionally brushing right up into the absurd. When Chris Pratt is speeding through the thick underbrush of the Central American island jungle alongside his trained velociraptors, he’s doing so on his Triumph motorcycle – miraculously not getting stuck in mud, losing traction on loose ground, or running into any logs, roots, or rocks. And, though the film’s genetically-designed super-predator dinosaur crushes and hurls trucks, jeeps, and “gyrosphere” vehicles, I can’t recall any of the array of Mercedes vehicles getting so much as a scratch, for the entire duration of the film.
I know that it would defeat the purpose of product placement to have Chris Pratt going over the handlebars on his Scrambler and Bryce Dallas Howard climbing out of the wreckage of her overturned GLE Coupe. Still, there would be something satisfying about a super-predatory dinosaur not having such fierce brand loyalty. But, maybe one part of the Indominus Rex’s genetic makeup goes undisclosed, even past his inevitable destruction – part tyrannosaurus, part velociraptor, part Universal Studios marketing executive.