“If you’re not first, you’re last!”

5 Dec

If you’re not first, you’re last!”

These wise words were given to us by the hilarious movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This movie was made five years ago in 2006 and it has been one of my favorites ever since.

The character Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) has grown up wanting to go fast and will not settle for less than first place. He becomes the best NASCAR driver in history. He has everything anyone could ever want; a ‘smokin’ hot wife,’ two very badly behaved boys, a huge mansion, tons of cars, fame, and a best friend Cal Naughton (John C. Reilly).

Suddenly Jean Girad (Sasha Baron Cohen) comes over from France and turns Ricky’s world upside down. Ricky gets into a huge crash and starts to be paranoid that he is on fire all the time. As a result of Ricky’s race car career ending, he losses everything.  Ricky Bobby then has to race his way back into first place to get his life back and kick Jean Girad back to Europe.

 Now that you understand the plot of the movie, you may be able to picture how many product placements there were in it. Since the main part of the movie took place on the NASCAR race track, products were everywhere.

There were products on all the different cars, on the signs, on their clothing, and simply anywhere that you look.  The products included Kodak, McDonalds, QVC, Tide, Good Year, Wonder Bread, Old Spice, Perrier, Fig Newton’s, Lowes, Visa, Nextel, Target and Subway just to name a few.

Since this time I was paying attention to the products in the movie, I finally noticed how strategically placed they really were. The products were placed so that they could clearly be seen. Even if there was a car wreck, the hood flying off of the car would go across the screen to clearly show the product. Also, when trucks would go across the background the products’ logos would be big enough to be seen.

These products were both placed there on purpose by the companies and also it helped the movie seem more realistic. In a real NASCAR race there are products all over the cars because those are the sponsors for the racers. So not only did the movie help the products get noticed, the products helped the movie seem more realistic.

Another way the products helped the movie was for the comedic factor. Since it is a comedy, not to mention a Will Ferrell comedy, there has to be some stereotypical jokes.  As bad as stereotypes can be, when Will Ferrell makes them, you cannot help but laugh.

Since Ricky Bobby is a big time race car driver, he does commercials for some products. Of course, the commercials that he does are stereotypical and the main point of them is to be funny. Ricky Bobby tries to promote a hunting knife available at Wal Mart, Big Red gum and MayPax as the official tampon for NASCAR. These commercials were just for comedic reasons, especially the Wal Mart one because that is very stereotypical towards the ‘rednecks’ that usually are fans of NASCAR.

Those products were just placed there for comedic reasons, rather than them making money for the producers. Either way, it was effective and it made the audience remember the products.

During one scene, the whole family is sitting down for a nice dinner. Products are mentioned during the prayer before the meal and they are shown on the dinner table. During the prayer, Ricky Bobby thanks Jesus for all of the food they have including Dominoes, KFC and Taco Bell. He starts the prayer by saying, “Dear eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus. Don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent.” Okay so I know that quotation had nothing to do with products, but I thought it was hilarious and worth sharing.

During the same dinner scene they also make fun of contracts that link people with certain products. At the end of the prayer Ricky Bobby says, “Also due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention PowerAde at each grace, I just wanna say that PowerAde is delicious and it cools you off on a hot summer day and we look forward to PowerAde’s release of mystic mountain blueberry. Thank you, for all your power and your grace, Dear Baby God, Amen.”

This was mainly a funny aspect of the movie but it probably helped the products too. Since the movie was so popular, people would want to get those products just so that they could have that connection with the movie.

Also on the dinner table, I noticed that the products were all turned a specific way so that every camera angle would catch the full name of the product. The Coca-Cola, Wonder Bread, and PowerAde labels were all clearly shown. Once again, this adds to the movie and helps the products.

One of the best advertisements for a product that I have ever seen takes place in this wonderful movie. Not only is this hilarious, it is extremely clever and the most memorable product placement. Ricky Bobby and Jean Girad get into a crash at the final race of the movie. The cars are rolling across the tracks for a long time, and since it is taking so long NASCAR decides to go to commercial.

The movie then goes into a shortened version of a real Applebee’s commercial before it goes right back to the cars still rolling on the tracks. This was clever for the movie and for Applebee’s. This is probably one of the most memorable parts of the movie because it is so unexpected and funny. They use Applebee’s as another stereotypical joke because they say NASCAR fans consider Applebee’s a “gourmet meal.” Applebee’s probably got a lot of more revenue because of this movie, and the director probably received a lot of money from Applebee’s because he put their commercial in the middle of the movie.

I believe that the products that were used in a comedic fashion were the most memorable and the most effective. If I had to think of products in the movie (before I watched the movie to look for them) I would think of Wal Mart, Applebee’s and PowerAde. These were all used to be funny before they were used to advertise.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby used products throughout the entire movie. They used specific products that helped the plot of the movie in many ways.  The products were promoted very well and were remembered by the audience. The mix of comedy (product stereotypes) and realistic (all the products at a NASCAR race) were balanced very well throughout the movie.

Now, if you have not seen the movie yet, go watch it! And remember, if you’re not first; you’re last!

For your viewing pleasure, I have added a video of the different promos that Ricky Bobby does during the movie. Have a good laugh and enjoy!

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