Even though Coors Brewing Company didn’t pay Walt Disney Pictures to place a beer can in the PG-rated movie Tron: Legacy, the can still ended up in there somehow. Whether or not Coors masterminded the appearance, one could argue that Coors is marketing its beer to underage viewers.
A BrandChannel post disagrees with a New York Times Media Decoder blog post that says the Tron: Legacy Coors appearance does not constitute product placement because no money changed hands. BrandChannel contends that the wink-and-nod, unpaid variety of advertising in movies is common practice:
As with fashion stylists and celebrities, brands have relationships with prop masters or Hollywood agencies that specialize in providing products to production designers for use in film. In many cases these products are “pre-cleared” for use, and that is the how they receive placement. Apple computers is a master of this non-paid product placement. So while paid product placement is becoming more common, unpaid placement is — contrary to popular, and the New York Times’, opinion — still the norm.
The beer presence in Tron: Legacy looks especially damning due to the history of Coors, which faced protests and a lawsuit after it placed products in the 2003 film Scary Movie 3. You remember the twins, right?
Here’s the trailer in which the beer can appears:
Legacy Issues: Coors’ Tron Product Placement Revisits Controversy [BrandChannel]
Coors Cameo in a Futurist Film [The New York Times]