This post about fake brands is not about counterfeits or knock-offs. Rather, it is about made up brands used in entertainment on television and in film.
I took my kids last week to see Cars 2 at the movie theater. Like many other Pixar (now part of Disney) movies, it is full of made up fake brands (as well as real ones).Fake brands are still prevalent even though product placement has become more of a common practice (commonly attributed to the huge bump in sales of Reese’s Pieces following E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in 1982). Just like a real trademark or brand name, a good fake product placement should be original, unique and in my opinion suggestive of the products or services.
Here are my favorite fake brands in film and TV:
- ACME – from Looney Toons. My earliest recognition of a ‘fake’ brand. Imitated by many other shows and films, ACME seems to be to have become so ubiquitous as a fake brand that it is sort of generic for a generic brand.
- BIG KAHUNA BURGER – in Pulp Fiction and other Tarrantino films. Apparently there are now several real work ‘knock offs’ and restaurants which feature a ‘Big Kahuna Burger.’
- DUFF BEER – The Simpsons. Iconic. DUFF is a great fake brand because “duff” means fake. Twentieth Century Fox has registered DUFF BEER with the USPTO for shirts and apparel.
- PIZZA PLANET – in Toy Story. Fits with the intergalactic theme, yet sounds somewhat generic too. And now life imitates art since in Walt Disney World there is a pizza place called Pizza Planet
- BADA BING -in The Sopranos. Suggestive for the strip club it is in the show. The Bada Bing! logo is registered by HBO for apparel.
- THE PEACH PIT – from Beverly Hills 90120.
- VANDELAY INDUSTRIES – from Sienfeld. George’s fictional job is with a fictional company. See the video here.
- DUNDER MIFFLIN, INC. – paper company in the U.S. version of The Office.
In my opinion, the best of the best are Duff and Acme. One means fake, and one has come to mean generic because it was so well used by Looney Tunes.
Food for thought: Can fake brands eventually become successful real brands? Do fake brands have any trademark protection?
Product Displacement blog
Mental Floss: The Quick 10: 10 Fake Brands Used by the Entertainment Industry
TopTenz.net: Top Ten Fictional Brands from Movies and TV
Hollywood.com: Our Favorite Fictional Disney/Pixar Brands