harold & kumar go to white castle: sophie giraud
Owen Gleiberman
May 02, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What’s the most audacious product placement in movie history?

What is the most audacious product placement in a movie ever? I’m going to go with a certain candy that always makes me think of E.T. — Sdoyal

That shout-out to Reese’s Pieces was a legendary instance of creative shilling, and it points to what genuinely audacious product placement is really all about: The product in question must be folded so completely, and charmingly, into the plot that the audience is hoodwinked into approving of the plug’s very brazenness. For one reason or another, this sort of thing seems to proliferate in Tom Hanks movies. You’ve Got Mail, released on the cusp of the e-mail era, was a fantastic advertisement for AOL, and Cast Away succeeded in gently mocking Federal Express and making the company look hip at the same time (in part because it was willing to be mocked). Yet one movie has even those two beat. A couple of summers ago, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle enjoyed the distinction of not merely placing a product in its title and — prominently — in its storyline. The whole damn film was organized around the quest for White Castle (it might almost have been called Raiders of the Lost Slider), to the point that experiencing the all-night road trip of Harold and Kumar became a vicarious exercise in junk-food salivation.

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