Eat your Smeat, Drink a Duff, Then Smoke a Morley: Examining TV Products That Eerily Resemble Real World Ones
Some of these products are show, director, or movie specific: Futurama has Slurm made from worms, The Simpsons have Duff Beer, The Drew Carey Show has Buzz Beer, and there are many more. And this is just for beer; there are many other products as well. Sons of Anarchy has Glencallan Whiskey. Quentin Tarantino exclusively uses Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burgers. Kevin Smith has Mooby Burgers. The list seems endless, but there are also those that appear on many shows.
This discussion comes out of a conversation my friend John and I had concerning Smeat, and its appearance on an old episode of the Chris Carter show, Millennium. He said that Smeat appeared in many places, and sure enough, it does. Smeat is a canned, processed food product, much like Spam or Treat, and, if you Google it, pictures of the can show up, but there is also a Wikipedia page that directs you to Spam -- the urban dictionary page is a whole 'nother ball game, but Smeat.net lists the shows and movies the product appears in (The Walking Dead, Being Human, and Days of Our Lives are a few examples that show the range).
The product that most interests me, besides Smeat, is Morley Cigarettes. I remember first seeing them on X-Files years ago, and they stuck with me. As ubiquitous as Smeat or Heisler Beer, Morleys are everywhere; the iconic product is meant to mirror Marlboro's red and white package, and apparently plays with the idea that some people call Marlboro cigarettes, Marleys. While Morbs might be a more common use of name play, Morleys are found everywhere on television and film, from Breaking Bad to Weeds and even in video games, but are still most associated with X-File's Cigarette-Smoking Man.
All of these products are meant to mirror real life items or marketing schemes, playing into the human need to recognize patterns and see branded items. We have been trained to notice product placement. Some shows block recognizable bottles or bags so they don't have to pay advertisers, but savvy consumers can still figure it out, while others pay for shameless product placement depending on their budget. Fake products actually build a recognizable human world, like ours, but different. The comical names reflect real ones, and I wonder if they replaced those in our world, if many consumers would even notice.
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