How “Transformers” Blew Product Placements

The movie won “Worst Product Placement” in 2014

Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

Product placement, also known as embed marketing, in movies has been getting popular these days as the movie industries grow. Companies contact certain studios working on certain movies and make deals to get their brand up on the screen. A good strategy, if it is presented well.

One of the most notable films that had a lot of ads in a movie was Transformers: Age of Extinction, having 55 brands in a movie. But as the franchise grows and with more companies ask for their products to be on the big screen, the worse the product placement became.

This action film received a lot of company requests to put their products in the movies that they ended up “destroying” themselves. Sure, the movie earned more than $1 billion in the box office, but the audience reviews were terrible. There were many scenes where the movie indirectly “destroyed” the brand from explosions or written in the worst possible moment.

In this article, I want to show you why Transformers, notably the Transformers: Age of Extinction, has one of the worst product placements on the big screen. I will also give an example of good product placement on the screen from other notable films for contrast.

Note that there will be subtle spoilers of the movie and these are my own analyses.

1. Too Many Brands

Transformers: Age of Extinction had a total of 55 brands for product placement in the movie. Even the big brands such as Gucci and Victoria’s Secret managed sneak their way in. However, when there are too many products to include in the film, it messes with how to make a good movie and have product placements well, leading to my next point…

2. Obvious Ads

There is one scene in the movie where I knew immediately that this is just for commercial purposes and you might recognize it as well. It was the Beats Pill scene.

In the scene, Joshua Joyce was demonstrating a futuristic technology called “Transformium.” An alien technology that can transform into anything just by thinking about it with our minds. He asked his audience, “Do you like music?” then he materialized the piece of technology with his mind into a Beats Pill, shoving the speaker into the camera to get a close-up. After that, he materializes the technology again into a gun, without saying its brand name, like the pill.

That scene alone was already nominated as one of the worst product placements on the big screen. It was too obvious that it was an ad. In real life, why would you want to say the name of the speaker?

3. A Better Example

Here is a better example of product placement with Apple from another movie.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier also had Macbook Air and the store itself product placement (but I believe it was particularly for the laptop only) and it was placed brilliantly in the movie. There was a scene where Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov were looking for the secret hideout of Hydra, and because they needed internet access, they went to the Apple Store to use their laptops.

Now, this scene made us miss that it’s actually commercialized in favor of Apple. It didn’t feel like it was an ad shoved right to the audience that it was a mac, and it synced brilliantly with the movie plot. No words needed, just representation of the logo and its performances.

In movies, one must remember that this is not a commercial video. These two things have different stories to tell the audience, and if they are too obvious, it may end up ruining the experience and messing up the character’s dialogues or even their actions, leading to my next point…

4. Bad Representation

To be fair for the studio, it is an action film. So things blowing up are bound to happen. However, when they include lines and actions that became illogical for the sake of commercializing, it destroys both the movie and the brand. Bud Light Beer fell for this and it was very misrepresented in the Transformers: Age of Extinction.

There was a scene where the whole city was in chaos and the streets were a mess with disarray. However, one of the disrayed items happened to be Bud Light, scattering everywhere, making it looks wasted. Then, they made it worse when Cade Yeager drank a sip of it and threw it aside. Gulping a beer during the war and throwing it aside, who would do it when the city is in chaos? If there is a terrorist attack, people don’t stop by for a drink.

So not only did it make the brand look bad to the audience, but it messed up the movie scene itself.

The Takeaway

Yes, the movie earned a huge box office revenue, however, I can’t say for sure if the companies were happy with how their products were presented on screen. The movie won “the worst product placement” in 2014. It had:

  1. Too many brands to show
  2. Obvious ads
  3. Bad representations.

Movies may be a great place to advertise, but do consider the effect as well on how the scene unravels with the products. I hope you learn something here.

Written by

Honest Writer| Pop culture, Self & Business Case Studies Writer | Find me here: https://linktr.ee/nicolesudjono

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