Have you ever watched a film or TV show and thought “that’s a really terrible imitation of [brand we’re meant to recognise without it being the actual brand, which they can’t or won’t use for legal and/or commercial reasons]”, for example when a character gets a vague-looking beer out of their fridge or has Fakey-Flakes breakfast cereal on their kitchen table? I definitely have. Sometimes they’re atrocious, not much better than the deliberately generic Acme products in an old cartoon. Some of them are actually not terrible at all; occasionally they’re even quite witty. Real world discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl also specialise in these Brand X near-clones. One of the best ones I’ve seen recently was Lidl’s “Neos” (i.e. fake Oreos), whose name and packaging is so brazen I had to laugh at their audacity.
Of course it’s also remarkable and somewhat depressing to realise just how attuned, trained and indoctrinated most of us are to logos, branding and corporate identities. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be disconcerted or find it funny when somebody does an imitation of these brands, alludes to them, puns with or satirises them.
It stands to reason that it’s somebody’s job to design and make these TV perfect simulacra of consumer goods. One of those somebodies is Independent Studio Services, who have a long list of film and television credits as background and practical prop suppliers. I’ve picked out just a few of their products. There are loads more of these on their site. If like me you’re a bit autistic about things like this, I warn you that following the link may lead to inexplicable episodes of missing time.