At the Movies: The “30 Minutes or Less” Mixed Marketing Message


The comedy 30 Minutes or Less is opening in cinemas this weekend, and with a cast including Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari, it looks hilarious. It’s a shame its source material is so depressingly grim.

While the idea that strapping a bomb on a pizza delivery guy and forcing him to rob a bank (or be blown to smithereens) may seem like a plot straight out of Hollywood, it actually happened in 2003.

On Aug. 28, 2003, Mama Mia Pizzeria delivery man Brian Wells was stopped by police during a bank robbery. Subsequently, Wells revealed a bomb strapped to his neck. He told police he had driven out to deliver a pizza but instead had been confronted by two men, who locked a time-bomb collar around his neck, and then sent him to rob a bank.[more]

Tragically, the bomb went off while Wells sat on a curb near a squad car. Broadcast live on TV, videos of the horrific death can still be found online, including on YouTube. The producers claim that 30 Minutes or Less isn’t based on the story of Wells, but his family isn’t buying it.

In 2007, two people were indicted for the crime and it was revealed that Wells had been an accomplice, although he believe the bomb would be a fake. In December 2010, Wired ran a comprehensive look back at the robbery, “The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist.”

That’s the marketing dilemma that faces 30 Minutes or Less. As for product placement in 30 Minutes or Less

In a few weeks, Ford’s new Mustang model will get a chance, in the form of the upcoming film Drive, to answer back at Dodge Charger’s product placement coup of Fast Five. Until then, Ford will have to endure the role of its 1980s-era model in 30 Minutes, which includes a NSFW assessment of the Ford: “It’s like, you bought a Mustang and the Mustang got AIDS.”

Also jostling for #1 at the box office this weekend — Final Destination 5.

Product placements? Maybe. But as we have noted repeatedly, horror film producers typically go out of their way to not feature brands, which would distract from the scares.

Also opening this weekend: The Help, a 1960s dramedy that promises very little product placement, except a period-appropriate bottle of Coke.

Two other documentaries are opening this weekend that are sure to be loaded with brands: Glee: The 3D Concert Movie…

And Senna, a documentary about about the life and death of Brazilian F1 champion, Ayrton Senna:

Check back Monday for our Brandcameo product placement analysis of the #1 movie this weekend to see if The Rise of the Planet of the Apes will remain, with Apple, at top spot. Until then, enjoy!