2016’s Most Obvious Product Plugs to Date

When it comes to obvious product plugs, 2016 has been full of them. Here were some of our favorites so far.

By Emily Scher
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Product placement is nothing new to media. The first movie ever to win a Best Picture Oscar was a 1927 silent film called Wings. The film featured Clara Bow and Gary Cooper, and in one scene, an obviously and prominently placed Hershey’s chocolate bar.

We have yet to see this practice disappear today, as companies continue to plug their products into movies, TV shows, songs and even post-game Super Bowl player interviews. Here are some of the most notable (and blatantly obvious) product placements that we’ve seen thus far in 2016:

Beyoncé’s Song, “Formation,” Causes Red Lobster Sales Surge

During Super Bowl 50 weekend, Beyoncé dropped her first song since 2014. In her new single, Beyoncé made a sexually charged mention of Red Lobster around the 3:00 mark — and it ultimately resulted in a 33 percent sales bump for Red Lobster.

Go figure.

According to Red Lobster spokesperson Erica Ettori, the brand was mentioned on Twitter 42,000 times in a single hour and trended for the first time in the seafood restaurant chain’s history.

Fun fact: Red Lobster didn’t realize Beyonce even called out the chain in her song until the restaurant started trending on Twitter, according to CEO Kim Lopdrup.

Peyton Manning Talks Budweiser

Following the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win, Peyton Manning had a (shall we say “curious”?) moment when being interviewed by CBS’s Tracy Wolfson.

“I’ll take some time to reflect. I’ve got a couple of priorities first,” he said. “I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. I want to go hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy, I promise you that.

The immediate reaction from the entire Super Bowl party I was attending was, “Oh my God! Just imagine how much he got paid to say that.”

But in fact, Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser denied that Manning was plugging the product for pay.

And the biggest concern with the mention? Active players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic products.

Fun Fact: I like to believe that Peyton wasn’t paid for this mention, but if he were, his two mentions are valued at an outstanding $13.9 million.

“The Bachelor” Rides Along with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube

Here at Hoffman, it’s safe to say that the majority of us watch “The Bachelor.” But it’s also safe to say that as PR pros, we have our eye out for the shameless product plugs.

On one of “The Bachelor’s” first dates this season, the entire date is pretty much a promo for Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s new movie, “Ride Along 2.” The date entails Ben and one of the girls, Caila, cruising the streets of Los Angeles and making random stops along the way accompanied by Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.


In my opinion, Beyoncé gets away with the Red Lobster plug (after all, Beyoncé can do no wrong), but both the Budweiser and the Ride Along 2 promotions were extremely forced. If your audience can immediately call it out, you should probably try an alternative tactic.


(Feature image source: USA Today)

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