There was a scene in the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps that could be used as an example of bad product placement. It happened at the dinner. Present were Gordon Gekko, his alienated daughter Winnie and her fiancé Jake.

Gordon Gekko: »Drinks?«

Winnie: »No.«

Gekko: »What about you? Heineken?«

Jake: »Yeah, sure.«

Heineken in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010, 20th Century Fox, screen capture)

What is the problem with that piece of screenplay? Well, the most important part: context. In terms of execution Oliver Stone used spoken and visual product placement, which was done nicely. My main objection is that the context of this placement is forced rather than natural. And in such cases the viewers don’t see the product and feel “I want to have it”, but as “OMG! WTF was that.”

At the dinner you would normally ask your future son-in-law if he wants wine, beer or maybe water. You wouldn’t ask him if he wants a specific brand of beer, except if you would be really sure about his drinking preferences. And that’s not normal. Well, it could be if you were a salesman for Heineken with non-existent social skills.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is full of product placement and could be qualified as product placement prostitution. However a viewer should expect a lot of brands: it’s a movie about money, Wall Street, fast cars and motorcycles … brands. BrandChannel counted the number of brands – they stopped at 38. But if your brand is involved in the movie with such high number of brands, it’s really difficult to stand out from the crowd. Apparently Heineken insisted on standing out :(

According to some statements from Oliver Stone, they had big problems with financing the movie. “We needed help, and we took it where we could without, I think, prostituting the movie.” He also insisted: “There was no scene that we did out of the way specifically to accommodate a particular brand sponsor.”

Yeah, right! Heinken’s product placement in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is absolutely horrible and one of the worst placements in recent memory.


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  1. I had thought the ‘Heineken?’ remark was a plot point, in that he had a Heineken the last time he met with Gekko – I’d expected the girl to say ‘how did you know he liked Heineken?’ or something, but it didn’t happen.
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  2. Yep. This and the Ducati scene were so blatant and jarring that they yanked me right out of the plot and killed all suspension of disbelief.

  3. I completely agree, totally jarring and cringeworthy use of product placement. Very obvious indeed.

  4. A little late on this, but in my opinion it did serve as a plot point. Clearly it was product placement, and I’m not going to argue against that, but if you notice when they cut to the close up of the bottle (which I admit, my first reaction to was “aww really?”) it says (like on all Heinekin botles) “Brewed In Holland.” In the last seen with Gecko, they discuss “Tulipmania,” the greatest bubble of all time, which, of course, took place in Holland.
    Product placement, yes, but also a subtle reminder of Gecko’s business acumen and motives in the film.

    Also Charlie Sheen’s cameo was brilliant.

  5. Thanks.

    Heineken and the tulips? Nice catch. I haven’t thought about that kind of connection, to be honest.

  6. One of my favourite movies at the moment, I thought the placement of the heineken was brilliant. Most would simply assume that Ghekko, being the arrogant and large ego’d wouldn’t give his son inlaw a choice but more so imply that he’ll be drinking the same whether he liked it or not. Made me feel like a Heineken anyway

  7. Thanks for your comment Mark. That’s a valid point and I have to admit that I haven’t thought about Heineken’s placement scene from that angle.