The film tells the story of an alcoholic pilot who prevents a flight from crashing but then faces an investigation for flying while drunk. He is repeatedly seen drinking Budweiser and a number of vodka brands throughout the film.
The move is likely to spark a backlash from drinks manufacturers concerned the scenes reflect poorly on their brands as well as their efforts to tackle alcohol misuse.
AB Inbev is the first to hit out at the film’s distributor Paramount Pictures and has called for execs to obscure the Budweiser logo in current digital copies of the movie and on all subsequent adaptations, including DVD, on-demand, streaming and additional prints not yet distributed to cinemas.
The company says it had “no knowledge” the brand would be used in the movie, which launches in the UK next year.
In a statement, Rob McCarthy, Budweiser’s vice-president, said: “It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, and Paramount chose to use one of our brands in this manner. We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drink driving.”
Budweiser is not the only alcohol beverage shown in the film. William Grant & Sons, which distributes Stolichnaya vodka in the US, said it did not give its permission for the brand’s inclusion in the film and would not have had the company been asked.
Other vodka brands, including Pernod Ricard’s Absolut and Diageo’s Smirnoff, are also thought to appear in the film. Diageo was unable to provide a response at the time of writing, while Absolut said it was “unaware” that Paramount Pictures was using the brand in the film, claiming that its inclusion was “not sponsored by Absolut nor any of the Pernod Ricard affiliates.”
It is an example of a negative impact of product placement but elsewhere, Heineken is seeing a boost in publicity around its tie-up with the latest James Bond film Skyfall, which features a scene where the character is seen drinking one of its beers.