Product placement in pictures: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller is Walter Mitty, a negative assets manager in the photography department at Life magazine who frequently daydreams of fantastic adventures, and has a crush on his coworker Cheryl. When his job (and jobs of many of his colleagues) is threatened, Walter takes action and goes on a global journey to save his job and tries to get the girl.

Stiller’s version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is actually a second film adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name.

To be honest I didn’t like the movie, especially its over-simplified story. I also have to admit that I only watched it because of reports on Twitter that it includes huge amount of product placement.

Life magazine in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Were these tweets and reports accurate?

Yes.

I don’t have problem with product placement if it’s integrated in the story and if the movie is interesting. But it the case of Walter Mitty it was kind of annoying.

Let’s check the majority of brands that got exposure in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Life magazine

Life magazine is a former American magazine with a strong emphasis on photography. The movie shows its transition from printed edition to an online presence only.

Life magazine in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

eHarmony

eHarmony is an online dating website designed specifically to match single men and women with each other for long-term relationships. It received enormous exposure in the movie.

eHarmony in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Dell

Dell in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

AirGreenland

Air Greenland in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Air Greenland in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Papa John’s

Papa John’s in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Papa John’s in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Stretch Armstrong

Stretch Armstrong in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Conan show

Conan O’Brien’s show in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Jansport

Jansport in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Jansport in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Cinnabon café

Cinnabon is a chain of American baked goods stores and kiosks, normally found in areas with high pedestrian traffic such as malls and airports.

Cinnabon in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

Career Builder

According to their website CareerBuilder is the largest online job site in the U.S.

CareerBuilder in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

The verdict: average story with some simplistic issues. James Berardinelli wrote in his review, that films of this sort may have worked well in a “simpler” era. Product placement? Nothing to write home about.

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One comment

  1. I felt exactly the same way about this film. It had so much potential, but it was so… shallow. And the product placement was not cleverly integrated at all. I was most annoyed with the Cinnabon placement; it was so blatant (so much so that it was almost laughable) and not at all necessary.

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