Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Comic Book Ad: 2-Fer

This advertisement in Young Men #4 (June 1950) not only pushes candy but also the recent release of a William Bendix film, in which a character from a Boy's Town-like youth center visits his sick mother in the hospital and gives her a box of candy he probably nicked from the nearby Woolworth's.

Has anyone seen the 1949 William Bendix film Johnny Holiday? I'd be interested to know if such blatant product placement as the character giving a box of brand candy to his mother and her delighted reaction actually appeared in the movie.

Once upon a time, people in films often drank from fictional label soda bottles and smoked generic cigarettes. While there would be partnerships among the companies to use their product in films they either owned or produced, with the exception of cars and other items that would be too bothersome to duplicate as props it took a while before someone hit upon the idea of accepting payments for prominently featuring consumer goods in a film. Prior to that bad idea brand name appliances and goods were just props. The actors did not extol the virtues of a self-cleaning, the smooth ride of a particular car or awkwardly hold a bottle so the label would not be obscured in every scene. The camera did not linger overlong on the sleek design of the shiny new refrigerator. Consumer goods were props and background, just incidental scenery.

Overt product placement is a relatively new part of the process of movie making. Becoming more obvious in the cinema of the 60s it increased until such fare as the James Bond movies were little more than 2 hour commercials for boy toy gadgets. Let us not forget the less than subtle, fast-food inspired Mac and Me and the uncredited inanimate cast members in the form of the volleyball and international delivery service in the Tom Hanks vehicle Cast Away.

The Bendix film was not the only movie advertised in that issue of Young Men. Beneath the ad for chewing gum is the promo for classic World War 2 film The Sands of Iwo-Jima.

It's John Wayne in comic book form!



  1. Looks like he gave his mother Tootise Rolls! Hooray!

  2. I spent about three seconds marveling that Captain Triumph scored himself a Tootsie Rolls campaign. That's how big a nerd I am. *sigh* Well, back to space piracy!

  3. I am afraid that you have a little competition for Mary's attentions! I could not find the correct link to correspond to this picture, though. Can you tell me, so I can correct it?

  4. I haven't actually seen "Johnny Holiday," but I would imagine that, if there actually is a scene of Johnny giving Tootsie Rolls to his mom, it probably wasn't meant as an endorsement of the brand. More likely, it was meant to show the character as a well-meaning lunkhead...he WANTS to do something nice for his ma, but he can't think of a better gift than Tootsie Rolls. (Like I said, I haven't seen it, but I'm taking it for granted that Johnny is a good-intentioned dope, just because that's the character William Bendix almost ALWAYS played.)


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