Five Brands Who Successfully Parodied Indiana Jones

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On 12 June 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark debuted and launched a Hollywood icon onto a waiting world. Three subsequent movies refused to prove the accepted wisdom that the franchise’s popularity was diminishing.
Indiana Jones 5 is set to hit movie screens in 2021Indiana Jones 5 is set to hit movie screens in 2021 with Harrison Ford reprising the role at an older age than Sean Connery when the latter appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Advertisers were not slow to cotton on to Jones’ popularity. Even in less sophisticated eras, they capitalised on the cinematic phenomenon with varying degrees of success. We’ll look at five of the best parodies of Indiana Jones to make it to the small screen which means there’s no place for Pepsi’s risible effort.

Except it wasn’t. Despite being labelled as a Pepsi commercial elsewhere, it was, in fact, a 9th Grade class project; Mr Totaro’s class, claims the original video.

Lucasfilm wasn’t slow to licence products such as the ubiquitous action figurines and continues to do so. The increasing sophistication and budgets for advertising can be tracked through the timeline of the figurines.

Product licensing is as vital to a film’s financial success as the box office. As with commercials, the breadth of markets shows increasing sophistication.

There are still toys but in the modern era, video games across multiple platforms, marketed with resounding success by Lego, through to online gaming and casinos which are attracting millions of users to their themed slot games. We’ve come a long way from plastic toys, burgers and drinks.

Imitation, the old saying goes, is the sincerest form of flattery and commercials have long used the Jones exploits as the basis for their art. We look at five of the most successful ads to air down the years.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange

Britain in 1981 was a television backwater; three channels which closed down at varying points in the day and night. The staple diet of the British home was the news, drama, a film, and a few sitcoms; little wonder advertisers merged the last two into the first memorable pastiche of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Every visual gag from Raiders is there bar the snakes, wrapped up in the favoured middle-class suburbia domain of the sitcom. Even in the pre-internet world, everyone knew the ad owed everything to the Indiana Jones movies such was its’ cinematic impact on the nation.

Yet typically for the sitcom, the ending led to a heroic failure rather than Jones’ heroism. Encapsulating the era, the husband’s attempt at stealing the prize ended with a sense of impending doom. Very George & Mildred indeed.

Burger King

Burger King took several bites at the Indiana Jones cherry. As you’d expect with fast food chains, kids meals whether it be toys, videos or DVDs, featured prominently in their initial efforts but when they stepped away from that cliff edge, the ad worked beautifully.

Indiana Jones was all about escapism, harking back to the 1950s when going to the pictures was a big adventure. Burger King understood that, selling their product off the back of the hapless staff members heroic failure at the hands of a serious world.


Entitled 'Temple', online bookmaker Betway took a generic approach, highlighting the booby-trapped pathway in an ancient temple as their popular explorer duo trip every trap on the way to greater


One of the latest entries into the Indiana Jones genre came from the popular candy critters. 

It’s also one of the shortest but remains memorable for the humour surrounding the Indiana Jones theme on the snake charmer’s flute, the pungi.

Inspired by The Crystal Skull, in 15 seconds all the boxes for a successful Indy ad are ticked: namecheck film source, theme tune and use of Jones’ fear of snakes.


We’ve saved the best to last! Nutella (by Ferrero) didn’t bother hiring actors or writing scripts, they just bought a clip from the movie to use.

It’s no wonder Jones was able to perform all those stunts; think of the sugar rush he got from eating a jar of Nutella that big for breakfast. 

Looking back now, the special effects look like they were conjured up in a sixth-grade art class. The perspective of the jar changes several times in a small sequence while the glow from the bread held by Alfred Molina makes me wonder if they bought it from a baker in Chernobyl. 

That’s part of its’ charm; what now seems ham-fisted was cutting edge at the time. 

We can’t finish the piece without an honourable mention to Mentos. Using the same idea as Nutella, they bought film clips but couldn’t even be bothered to superimpose their product into the scene.

In the end, you get thirty seconds from The Temple of Doom with a cheesy soundtrack ending with a low-budget banner at the end. If there were an Oscar for a lazy-arsed ad of the year, this would have won several times over!

Read 2974 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 10:54
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