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Budweiser Miffed Over Flight Product Placement

And now we bring you a very, very welcome respite from politics. Yes, it felt great to type that.

In the eyes of the average brand, product placement is a good thing–especially when the product in question plays a role in a hit feature film. But representatives for worldwide King of Suds Anheuser-Busch aren’t too happy with the fact that a bottle clearly bearing the Budweiser logo appears in the new Denzel Washington thriller Flight.

Why would any brand demand to have its logo removed from a critically acclaimed movie starring one of the industry’s biggest names? It’s fairly simple, really: his character has a drinking problem.

That’s right, Denzel stars as a commercial airline pilot who works an evening shift as a hopeless alcoholic–and that fact turns into a big problem after he survives a “horrific crash” for which we can only assume he bears responsibility (no spoilers please–we’re waiting for the DVD).

Turns out that DVD may well be missing a certain dark-brown bottle with an iconic red logo. This week, Anheuser-Busch asked Paramount and its parent company, Viacom, to remove all traces of the offending Bud from subsequent cuts of Flight. The company’s vice president issued a statement: “We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking…It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, and Paramount chose to use one of our brands in this manner.”

Really?

We understand Anheuser-Busch’s sensitivity to a certain degree, but the company produces alcoholic beverages. Will viewers seriously associate Budweiser with alcoholism after watching this movie? We doubt it, especially considering the fact that Denzel’s character also drinks a whole hell of a lot of vodka (Stoli distributor William Grant and Sons also indicated that the company would not have participated in the film if asked).

These popular alcohol brands are real-world products that appear in many films. Should their distributors really expect to counteract the power of creative license when PR reps aren’t happy with the subject matter?

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