The Quick 10: 10 Fake Brands Used by the Entertainment Industry
Technically, it's more like, "10 Fake Brands and Numbers and License Plates Used by the Entertainment Industry" but that's pretty wordy for a title. Basically, it's brands that you've seen pop up in show after show, movie after movie. Maybe you haven't even noticed that they're used across the board - they can be pretty sneaky about placement. Sometimes it's because they truly need a generic brand, and in some cases it's just because it's become an inside joke to work in to movies, much like the Wilhelm Scream. Either way, I think it's fun.
1. Red Apple Cigarettes from Quentin Tarantino. There are plenty of directors and writers who create brands and use them across all of their movies and shows, but this one and Big Kahuna Burger, another Tarantino, are some of the most famous (read on for another one that I think ranks up there). Some people mistakenly think "Fruit Brute" and "Kaboom!" cereal are from the depths of Tarantino's imagination, but those were actual cereals. Once upon a time, "Fruit Brute" was part of the Frankberry-Count Chocula-Booberry family.
"¢ First seen in Pulp Fiction, Red Apple can also be spotted in the Tokyo airport when Uma Thurman walks by an giant advertisement for the brand.
"¢ A pack is tossed in the Gecko Brothers' car in From Dusk Til Dawn.
"¢ Ted the Bellhop from Four Rooms smokes them.
"¢ In the Planet Terror part of Grindhouse, the BBQ owner tosses a pack to Wray.
2. Morley Cigarettes. 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 (the original). 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, "˜til 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 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.
"¢ One of my current favorites, United States of Tara, features Heisler in an episode where Marshall and Kate throw a party while their parents are out of town.
4. Oceanic Airlines. I'm a big Lost fan and had never heard of this made-up brand until then, but it's 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. Use it to make yourself sound like a film genius: "It's so obvious that the plane is going to be hijacked. Could they make their foreshadowing any more obvious?"
"¢ 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, Korean terrorists hijack an Oceanic Air flight.
"¢ Oceanic is referenced in other ABC and/or J.J. Abrams projects "“ the name has made appearances in Chuck, Fringe and Pushing Daisies.
"¢ Supposedly the Oceanic name goes all the way back to the "˜60s with a mention in an episode of Flipper called "The Ditching," but I can't seem to verify this one.
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 be pretty much unprecedented, since the shows are on two different networks. Reps for both shows have denied that they the shows tie together but did say that they often chat with one another and are inspired by one another.
"¢ Gannon pamphlets can be found in at least four episodes of Heroes.
"¢ Lost fans will spot 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 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.
"¢ 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 re-enactments.
"¢ On Criminal Minds, when Megan Kane Finder-Spyders (doesn't have the same ring as "Googles," does it?) Special Agent Aaron Hotchner in the episode "Pleasure is my Business."
7. 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 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, SB 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. 555-2368. Phone companies have reserved the "555" prefix from 0100-0199 for fictional purposes such as movies and T.V. shows. This happened because it started to become problematic when writers would make up "fake" numbers for their fictional purposes, only to have fans dial the number and disrupt a real person who hadn't intended for their number to be put out there for national use. This still presents a bit of a problem"¦ one of the most widely-used fake 555 numbers is 555-2368, which clearly falls out of the 0100-0199 territory. Here are a few references to the 555-2368 number:
"¢ The Ghostbusters number in the "Who You Gonna Call" commercial.
"¢ The number of the Guiler residence in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
"¢ Jim Rockford's number in The Rockford Files.
"¢ The motel room phone in Momento.
"¢ Baretta's phone number in Baretta.
"¢ Jaime Sommers' phone number in The Bionic Woman.
9. 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' 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.
10. 2GAT123. Next time you're watching something, keep a close eye on the license plates to see if you spot these numbers. It almost always appears on a California license plate and is used because California doesn't actually use the letter combination "GAT" on real plates. Another one you might spot is "2FAN321." 2GAT123 has been spotted in these movies and shows:
"¢ Beverly Hills Cop II
"¢ L.A. Story
"¢ Pay It Forward
"¢ Mulholland Drive
"¢ Beverly Hills, 90210
"¢ Curb Your Enthusiasm
"¢ Two and Half Men
"¢ The X-Files
This all leads me to today's questions. Where have you spotted these movie generics? And, if you were creating your own universe like the Tarantino-verse or the View Askewniverse, what would your brand be? Mine would definitely have to be Patton-brand something: my dog is named Patton and he's a total psycho with one brown eye and one blue eye. Perhaps brown and blue would be the color scheme of my ads. Anyway, leave a comment and let us know what yours would be! Also, here is a gratuitous picture of Patton: