8 Fake Brands Seen in Movies and TV Shows

Miramax
Miramax

From Red Apple Cigarettes to Heisler Beer, Hollywood is full of fictitious "brands" that you've seen pop up in show after show, and movie after movie. Maybe you've never even noticed that they're used across the board, as filmmakers can be pretty sneaky about their placement. Sometimes it's because they truly need a generic brand, while in other cases it's just become a sort of inside joke. How many of these do you recognize?

1. RED APPLE CIGARETTES

There are plenty of directors and writers who create brands and use them across all of their movies and shows, but Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger (another Quentin Tarantino staple) are some of the most famous.

  • First seen in Pulp Fiction (1994), Red Apple can also be spotted in the Tokyo airport when Uma Thurman walks by an giant advertisement for the brand in Kill Bill.
  • Ted (Tim Roth), the put-upon bellhop, also smokes them in Four Rooms (1995).
  • A pack is tossed in the Gecko brothers' car in From Dusk till Dawn (1996), which Tarantino wrote and Robert Rodriguez directed.
  • The brand makes another appearance in the Rodriguez-directed Planet Terror part of Grindhouse (2007), when the BBQ owner passes a pack to Wray (Freddy Rodríguez).

2. MORLEY CIGARETTES

The Smoking Man from 'The X-Files'
Carin Baer/FOX

Unlike Tarantino's Red Apple cigs, which appear exclusively in his own movies, Morley Cigarettes are prop smokes used across the board. Here are a few places you'll find them:

  • Beverly Hills, 90210: Remember when Brenda comes home from Paris with a newfound smoking habit? The cigarettes her parents catch her with are Morleys.
  • Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was loyal to the Morley brand.
  • On Heroes, Claire Bennet's real mom tries to light a Morley in Sandra Bennet's house—until Sandra puts the kibosh on it.
  • The American soldiers in Platoon smoke Morleys.
  • Christina Ricci's character in Prozac Nation is a Morley smoker.
  • The infamous Smoking Man from The X-Files smokes—you guessed it—Morleys.

3. HEISLER BEER

Heisler Beer is the barley-and-hops version of Morleys. Some notable appearances:

  • In lots of My Name is Earl episodes.
  • When Silas from Weeds celebrates his 18th birthday, the beverage of choice is Heisler.
  • Beerfest by the Broken Lizard guys features both cans and bottles of the fictitious beer.

4. OCEANIC AIRLINES

The cast of 'Lost'
ABC

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Lost is surely familiar with the fictional Oceanic Airlines. But the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 aren't the only passengers to fly the friendly skies with the brand, which has been around since long before Jack and co. crashed on the Island. It's usually specifically used to depict ill-fated airlines, so the next time you spot the name at the beginning of a movie, you'll know something that the person sitting next to you doesn't.

  • Part of the 1996 movie Executive Decision takes place on Oceanic Airlines Flight 343.
  • In "The Bridget at Kang So Ri," an episode of JAG that aired in 2000, terrorists hijack an Oceanic Air flight.
  • Oceanic is referenced in other ABC and/or J.J. Abrams project; the name has made appearances in Chuck, Fringe, and Pushing Daisies.

5. GANNON CAR RENTALS

Speaking of Lost: Gannon Car ads were featured in back-to-back episodes of Heroes and Lost, which led to a lot of speculation among fans that the two shows were somehow connected. This would have been pretty unprecedented, since the shows were on two different networks. Reps for both shows denied that the shows tied together.

  • Gannon pamphlets can be found in at least four episodes of Heroes.
  • Lost fans spotted Gannon advertisements on the back of the Oceanic Airlines boarding pass folders—there are also pamphlets, too, and a Gannon advertisement at a soccer game in an episode with Desmond.

6. FINDER-SPYDER

Finder-Spyder is the official choice when writers need a generic search engine. Sometimes the logo looks suspiciously like Google's, and sometimes it looks nothing like it. Here's where you'll spot it:

  • In at least six episodes of Prison Break, including the pilot.
  • On Dexter.
  • In Two Without a Trace episodes: "Baggage," where they look up a website that was left in a journal, and "Cloudy with a Chance of Gettysburg," where they look up info about Civil War reenactments.
  • On Criminal Minds, when Megan Kane "Finder-Spyders" Special Agent Aaron Hotchner in the episode "Pleasure is my Business."

7. MOOBY'S

Jeff Anderson in 'Clerks II' (2006)
The Weinstein Company

Mooby's, a franchise that features a tongue-in-cheek golden cow mascot, is all over Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse. Fans already know this, no doubt, but for the casual viewer, here's a reference guide:

  • In Dogma, you'll see the chain all over the place: Bartleby and Loki visit the Mooby headquarters, they eat at a Mooby restaurant, Silent Bob wears a Mooby hat throughout the movie, and Rufus can be seen wearing Mooby pajamas.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Silent Bob is still wearing his Mooby hat. A Mooby character gets shot during the backlot chase scene.
  • Clerks II features the clerks relocating to a Mooby location after their Quick Stop burns down.

8. ACME

Acme is obviously associated with Looney Toons, but other shows and movies have picked up on the gag as well. The name originated because when the Yellow Pages were first introduced, tons of businesses started naming themselves "Acme" or "Ace" to get at the top of the listings. The Looney Toons's Acme and other Acme references poke fun at this (and some are referencing the Looney Toons Acme directly).

  • Calvin and Hobbes often referenced Acme on the box when Calvin was making transmogrifiers and other imaginative machines.
  • The Far Side used the company name in various comics, too.
  • Bullwinkle once pretended to sell Acme vacuums on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
  • The Simpsons makes reference on a somewhat regular basis, including during Itchy and Scratchy episodes.
  • The candy factory Lucy and Ethel work at in that famous episode is the Acme Candy Factory.
  • The detective agency in the Carmen Sandiego series is the ACME Detective Agency.
  • The Last Action Hero references Acme products.
  • Wally's Filling Station in The Andy Griffith Show sells Acme fuel.

Josh Trank Wouldn't Mind Erasing Fantastic Four From Film History

Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

It’s not every day that you hear a director talking about wanting to completely erase one of their projects from film history. But when the topic of the 2015 box office bomb Fantastic Four comes up, director Josh Trank isn't mincing words. The director tweeted that he would “gladly” donate to a GoFundMe page to have his failed adaptation erased from the cinematic history books.

It's no secret that Fantastic Four is a sore subject for Trank. The production was plagued with rumors that there was a bit of friction on set, particularly between the director and star Miles Teller. Even once the film had wrapped, reports about the troubled production plagued Trank, and eventually led to him parting ways with Disney, for whom he was supposedly developing a standalone Boba Fett movie. (It didn't help that Fantastic Four tanked at the box office and even won a Razzie for Worst Picture).

The topic of starting a GoFundMe page for the film started after Trank responded to fans rallying for a page to get the rat at the end of Martin Scorsese's The Departed digitally erased. When asked if he would support a page to get rid of Fantastic Four, Trank seemed to oblige (though he has since deleted the tweet).


It’s no secret the previous Fantastic Four movies have had little success, but now that Disney and Fox are joining forces, the series could be entering into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe now these superheroes will finally get the movie they deserve.

Hollywood's Brief Love Affair With Young Einstein Star Yahoo Serious

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The theater owners and exhibitors attending the ShoWest convention in February 1989 had a lot to look forward to. In an attempt to stir their interest in upcoming studio releases, major distributors were showing off stars and footage: Paramount led with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Columbia had Ghostbusters II. But it was Warner Bros. that caused the biggest stir.

In addition to Lethal Weapon 2, the studio had Tim Burton’s Batman, a straight-faced adaptation of the comic, and Michael Keaton—who slipped into a screening of some early footage—was no longer being derided as a poor casting choice. Then, in the midst of all this star power, the studio brought out a 35-year-old actor-writer-director with a shock of orange hair and an Australian accent.

The man had never appeared in a feature film before, much less starred in one, but Warner was gambling that his forthcoming comedy about a Tasmanian Albert Einstein who invents rock music and runs into Thomas Edison would be a hit. It had already become the sixth highest-grossing film in Australia's history, besting both E.T. and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

The man’s real name was Greg Pead, but Warner Bros. introduced him as Yahoo Serious, Hollywood’s next big comedy attraction.

 

To understand Warner’s appetite for an unproven commodity like Yahoo Serious, it helps to recall the peculiar preoccupation American popular culture had with Australians in the 1980s. Energizer had created a hit ad campaign with Mark “Jacko” Jackson, a pro football player who aggressively promoted their batteries in a series of ads; meanwhile, Paul Hogan parlayed his fish-out-of-water comedy, Crocodile Dundee, into the second highest-grossing film of 1986. (Serious would later bristle at comparisons to Hogan, whom he referred to as a “marketing guy” who sold cigarettes on Australian television.)

Born in Cardiff, Australia on July 27, 1953, Serious grew up in rural bush country and mounted car tires at a garage in order to pay his way through the National Art School. When he was expelled for illustrating the school's facade with satirical jokes that the faculty didn’t find particularly funny, Serious moved on to direct Coaltown, a documentary about the coal mining industry, and pursued painting.

Serious would later recall that the desire for a larger audience led him away from art and into feature filmmaking. ''It hit me like a ton of bricks one day,” Serious told The New York Times in 1989. “I remember having a cup of coffee and I went, 'Well, look, there is a giant canvas in every little town everywhere around the world. And on this giant canvas there are 24 frames of image on that screen every second and it's the most wonderful living art form.'” It was around this same time, in 1980, that Serious changed his name.

To get a feel for the language of film, Serious sat through repeated viewings of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove; he aspired to have the kind of total autonomy over his movies that directors like Woody Allen and Charlie Chaplin enjoyed.

In 1983, Serious was traveling along the Amazon River when he spotted someone wearing a T-shirt depicting Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out. The image is now pervasive, appearing on posters and other merchandise, but it seemed unique to the performer, who was struck by the idea that Einstein was once young and never took himself too seriously. And the concept for Young Einstein was born.

 

Serious's idea, which transplanted Einstein to Tasmania and imagined encounters with Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, and the atomic bomb, took years to assemble. He borrowed camera equipment and sold his car to help finance the film; he shot an eight-minute trailer that convinced investors he was capable of making a feature. His mother even cooked meals for the crew on set.

In order to maintain creative control, Serious gave up profit participation in Young Einstein, which he starred in, co-produced, co-wrote, and directed. When the film was released in Australia in 1988, it made an impressive $1.6 million at the box office and drew the attention of Warner Bros., which likely had visions of a Crocodile Dundee-esque hit. American press had a field day with Serious, who appeared on the cover of TIME and was given airtime on MTV.

Critics and audiences weren’t quite as enamored. The Orlando Sentinel suggested that "Tedious Oddball" would be a more appropriate name for the film's creator. In his one-star review, Roger Ebert wrote that, "Young Einstein is a one-joke movie, and I didn't laugh much the first time." In the U.S., Young Einstein grossed just over $11 million, a fairly weak showing for a summer comedy. It was bested in its opening weekend by both Ron Howard’s Parenthood and the Sylvester Stallone action-grunter Lock Up.

 

Although American distributors quickly cooled on Serious, Australia's enthusiasm for the filmmaker didn’t dampen. When Serious released 1993’s Reckless Kelly, a fictionalized account of outlaw Ned Kelly, it made $5.4 million in Australia—three times as much as Young Einstein. Serious took a seven-year sabbatical, then returned with 2000’s Mr. Accident, a slapstick comedy about an injury-prone man who tries to thwart a scheme to inject nicotine into eggs. Meeting a tepid critical and financial reception, it would be his third and (likely) final film.

At roughly the same time Mr. Accident was released, Serious took issue with upstart search engine Yahoo!, alleging the site was piggybacking on his popularity. He filed a lawsuit, which was quickly dropped when he failed to prove the URL had damaged him in any way.

Yahoo Serious attends an event
Paul McConnell, Getty Images

The amused headlines stemming from that incident were the last examples of Serious capturing attention in America. Having completed just three films, no other projects have come to fruition; Serious launched a website detailing some of his background and to air some of his Yahoo!-related grievances.

Now 65, Serious currently serves as founding director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, an Australian aid organization dedicated to improving the living conditions of Papua New Guineans. The board’s website lists him as Yahoo Serious, which is the name he claims that all of his family and friends have called him since he changed it in 1980.

“You can choose every aspect of your life,” Serious once said. “Why not your name?”

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