Before making The Dictator British actor, director and producer Sacha Baron Cohen created three feature movies that generated phenomenal buzz and at the same time performed admirably at the box office. Ali G Indahouse, Borat and Bruno became household names. The fourth, President Prime Minister Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen, the dictator of fictional country Wadiya, might not be as successful as his predecessors.
General Aladeen is a tyrannical ruler of the oil-rich North African rogue state Wadiya. He’s obsessed with having a nuclear weapon, but must go to New York, to explain his statements to the UN, when someone kidnaps him. Thankfully Aladeen manages to escape and begins his quest to return to his powers. The rest of the movie is a mix of hit-and-miss gags which are in a way similar to those from Coming to America.
Parodies and product placement are somewhat incompatible. If the authors are mocking everything that comes along their way, it might also affect brands that are involved in the movie. That was the case in The Director.
Let’s check some examples of (unintentional) product placement from the movie.
In a scene in Aladeen’s palace we can see the dictator playing a terrorist in a Nintendo Wii game Wii Terrorist 2K12. He then selects a game called “Munich Games”.
It’s offensive, of course, and it’s something that we could expected from Baron Cohen, but Aladeen later explained that living in New York has taught him to love Yiddish because the words their words really sound like what they’re meant to be.
It’s also interesting from Nintendo’s point of view, but I guess they have a sense of humour and didn’t make a fuss about that scene. Kudos to them.
Watch the Nintendo scene from the movie:
During one disagreement with the leader, Aladeen executed his chief nuclear bomb officer Nadal. However, it turns out that the executioner was a member of the resistance and Aladeen never executed anybody. Even more, Nadal started working as Mac Genius in the Apple store in New York.
When Aladeen met Nadal in a restaurant, he begged him to help him get back into power.
Nadal: “What? No. Why would I do that? I have a perfectly good job here. I’m a Mac Genius!”
Aladeen: “What do you do?”
Nadal: “Mostly, I clean semen out of laptops.”
Aladeen: “Congratulations. Living the American dream.”
The Lancaster Hotel
Aladeen and his entourage stayed at the fictional Lancaster Hotel in New York.
The main joke was Aladeen’s comment about hotel’s use of wifi: “Twenty dollars a day for wi-fi? And they call me an international criminal!”
The scenes from the hotel were shot in The Roosevelt Hotel near Grand Central Station in New York. Wifi in that hotel is not free. They will charge you $15 per day.
Dartz Motorz Company is a privately held Latvian-based corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells high performance armored vehicles. Their current model is called Prombron.
In the movie we could see Dartz Prombrons “Aladeen Edition”, which are now available to the public. You can buy it for $500,000, which makes it the world’s most expensive armored SUV.
Ed Hardy sunglasses
Aladeen was wearing Ed Hardy’s 003 Japan sunglasses.
Lamborghini Murcielago and Vespa
Some other movies from the ‘Product placement in pictures’ series:
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I wonder if Nintendo figured their product’s placement in the movie wouldn’t have any effect on the Wii’s popularity as a whole? I mean, it’s a short clip and Nintendo isn’t explicitly promoting the game itself he’s playing.
It would have been nice to know their thoughts though. Maybe they figured if there was any controversy (I don’t know if there was or not) it’d blow over eventually. It’s certainly an interesting situation to be in for a company. Excellent blog about it!
If I were at Nintendo, I would let it go. I wouldn’t like it a lot (from Nintendo’s point of view), although if you have a sense of humour it can be pretty funny. No comment is I think the most appropriate move by Nintendo.