Upcoming Universal Pictures release The Lorax has over 70 product tie-ins, including the EPA and Whole Foods. That's pretty impressive and what I can only assume is a bid to exhaust ultra-conservative nutjobs whose paranoid fantasies lead them to attack even childrens' movies for fostering "liberal propeganda." After all, these attention-seeking publicity whores have a tendency to express their displeasure by calling for boycotts against sponsors of such material. With 70 partners, that's a hell of a huge writing campaign.
Not that I have a problem with publicity whores - I just prefer it be done to stimulate capitalism rather than stifle it. It should be done in the name of raising product awareness - not watchdog group awareness. You know what I'm talking about - the blatant product placement that ensures that when Marty McFly orders a drink, he makes sure we know it's Pepsi. The sort of product integration that let's us know that when the future becomes a near utopia, all restaurants will become Taco Bell. We need this sort of jarring, in-film advertisment to remind us now and then "this whole thing is a fantasy, so don't waste valuable brain matter trying to puzzle out the internal logic in a 90s Stallone film.
The more obtrusive a product placement is, the closer it comes to achieving a pure state of the Brechtian alienation effect. I admit, I don't remember enough of my college film courses to explain what that means, but it sounds pretentious enough to make me seem I know what I'm talking about. Though I can appreciate the irony that Brecht was a Marxist - which means that if he were alive today, he'd be writing me an angry letter for associating him with behavior like this:
So with that in mind - what would you consider to be the worst/most awkward example of product placement in a film? Bonus points if you can think of a better way to execute it.