–Susan Perera, Attorney
It’s hard to believe, but it’s just two weeks away from the parade of pumpkins, witches, and skeletons outside your doorstep. In anticipation of the upcoming candy-filled holiday, I decided to look into a lingering trademark question – what came first, the Willy Wonka candy company or Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
While most people are aware that the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story, written by Roald Dahl, was adapted into the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film in 1971, I was unaware that the movie was created for its product placement potential.
It appears that the Quaker Oats Company financed the making of the film in exchange for a license to use WONKA on a chocolate bar that was to be released in unison with the movie. While the chocolate bar flopped, a subsidiary of Quaker released multiple Wonka-branded candies and was later acquired by Nestle.
So as you enjoy your SweeTarts, Nerds, and Pixy Stix this Halloween remember those sweet treats came about due to a major reverse product placement campaign.