One of the things I've heard most often from people who've seen Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is that Sony must have paid for the entire production by selling product placement spots. Not only is the assumption wrong, but it seems that the movie may not have made much at all from its abundant and blatant inclusion of brands (directly, anyway). Take Wonder Bread, which is featured quite prominently as Will Ferrell's character's main sponsor. The brand, owned by the bankrupt company Interstate Bakeries Corp. didn't exchange any money with Sony Pictures. Instead they worked out a back-end promotion deal where the movie was marketed through in-store displays and packaging for Wonder Bread. Because the brand was written into the script by Ferrell and Adam McKay, the movie needed the cooperation of Interstate as much as Interstate needed the exposure. Now, Advertising Age is reporting that the product placement gave Wonder Bread more than $4 million worth of advertising.

Other major brands like Old Spice worked out back-end promotion deals, too. Perrier, which was also featured in the script, as it was the only recognizable French brand that made sense in the context of Sacha Baron Cohen's character's sponsor, didn't have to do a thing, however. This is probably because the movie couldn't have worked without it. I can't find whether or not any of the many other products paid for their placement, but the consensus seems to be that Talladega Nights benefited from all the brands since they all provided a part of the whole sponsorship gag. Still, choosing Budweiser over say Coors and Coca-Cola over Pepsi had to have been done with some scrutiny. All I know is, somebody needs to actually come out with Laughing Clown malt liquor, because I know I'm not the only one looking for it on shelves.