Between its fast-paced shots of Chris Pratt flexing his arm muscles on a motorcycle as his raptor squad races past in pursuit of the cold-blooded Indominus Rex, and visual call-backs to the beloved theme park that started it all, there are few things about “Jurassic World” that audiences aren’t loving.
But if you look past the breakneck action sequences and nostalgia for the original “Jurassic Park,” you may have noticed something else lurking beneath the surface of this summer’s box-office juggernaut: subtle, yet pervasive product placement.
The movie’s child protagonists tune out their parents with Beats by Dre headphones. Jurassic World employees communicate with Samsung smartphones and tablets. When a flock of pterodactyls descends upon the park and terrorizes visitors, a man holding two massive Margaritaville margaritas ducks for cover.
As the movie makes sly jokes about the park’s reliance on corporate sponsors, these instances of product placement become increasingly meta. With attendance down and cash in short supply, the park’s executives name the exhibit for its genetically-designed carnivore “Verizon Wireless Presents The Indominus Rex.” A supporting character cracks that they should have just named the dinosaur the “Pepsi-Saurus.”
But no brand gets quite as much screen-time in “Jurassic World” as Mercedes-Benz. In the movie’s most shameless example of branding, park employees speed from place to place in the German luxury automaker’s G-Class SUV, Sprinter van and six-wheeled G-Wagen — logos always gleaming for the camera.
Normally, fleet vehicles boost name recognition up to 15 times more than traditional ads, but Jurassic World’s fleet of omnipresent Mercedes-Benz vehicles don’t need any help with that. Mercedes-Benz even sponsored the movie’s Hollywood premiere.
“There are so many plugs for Mercedes that you may wonder if the targeted viewers are studio executives,” New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis wrote.
Ultimately, it’s futile to complain too much about product placement in a movie from the “Jurassic Park” franchise when the original film had its own plugs for Jeep Wranglers, Nikon cameras and Jolt Cola. And when these are all brands that many of us purchase on a regular basis, it’s not like this product placement isn’t rooted in reality.
“It’s become just part of the natural way of doing business … but they still walk this fine line,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Rentrak, told the Washington Times. “It would seem unrealistic if they didn’t have real brands in there. Remember the days when people were drinking a beer and it just said ‘Beer?’”