We all know about product placement, right?
You see a can of Coke or a bottle of Aussie Mega shampoo on screen and think, “Well, geez, I haven’t washed my hair in a week or so, maybe I should try some of that sham-poo.”
That’s no accident (the product placement, not the unwashed hair—that’s a matter of hygiene). Filmmakers include products for a reason—and sometimes that reason is the companies pay for the placement. A recent story in The New York Times said some producers are even cutting product placement deals before a movie is cast or the script finished.
In Sin Bin, there are several products I spotted in various scenes. Curious, I asked Sin Bin director Billy Federighi about the brand names in the movie.
He said that when he envisioned the film he didn’t imagine much product placement.
“I wanted [Sin Bin] to be its own world,” he said. “For many of the products, we created our own brands. And I’m very proud of the fake brands—I was oddly drawn to them.”
For instance, the main character, Brian, acquires a box of Everwood condoms, which feature a hockey stick and the taglines, “For that barely-there feel,” and, “To help you stay in the game longer.”
There are also three fake cereal brands—Alpha Brand, Fiber Harvest, and Banana Hearts—an Irish whiskey called McSeamus, named after the film’s director of photography Seamus Tierney, plus Glenn Lock scotch, Clamm’s Beer, and Westchester cigarettes.
For many of the actual products, Federighi wanted local brands. “I figured we’d go with Chicago or Midwest brands to showcase them,” he said.
Sin Bin executive producer Dante Federighi–that’s Billy’s older brother–said a member of the production crew, product placement coordinator Mike Sage, reached out to the companies, which lent their names to the movie and offered plenty of product for the cast and crew to enjoy.
Here are five local brands featured in Sin Bin.
1. Intelligentsia Coffee — The students in Sin Bin carry cups that say Intelligentsia. The award-winning coffee company, based in Chicago, also supplied the crew with ample amounts of coffee, which has helped fuel production (and the writing of this blog).
2. Vitners potato chips — Known as “The Chicago style snack,” bags of these potato chips appear in the vending machines at Pinkerton High, the school Sin Bin’s characters attend. The chips also appear in a grocery store scene, which was shot in Chicago’s Happy Foods.
3. Portillo’s — In one scene characters drink from cups bearing the logo of this famous Chicago restaurant, which started as a hot dog stand and grew into a chain of bustling restaurants known as much for their Italian beef and chocolate cake as their dogs.
4. Old Style — Although this beer isn’t brewed in Chicago, it is a local favorite, especially for Cubs fans. Old Style is a mainstay among beer vendors at Wrigley Field. In Sin Bin, the main character’s older brother, Benny (played by Brian Petsos), drinks Old Style. He is older than 21, by the way, which is a concern of any alcohol company when it lends its name to a film.
5. Green River — This iconic lime-flavored soda is featured in the grocery store scenes, the vending machines at Pinkerton, and “probably in the home of the main character,” said Federighi. Green River, which is actually green, is bottled in Chicago. At one time, it was the second most popular soft drink, next to Coca-Cola.
Along with Intelligentsia, bags of Vitners and bottles of Green River have landed on the set’s craft services table. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t munched on a few bbq Vintners and washed them down with a Green River or three.
After hours, the crew also has plenty of Old Style to enjoy. And, again, I’ve enjoyed a few of those, too.