Brand Placement in the Christmas Movie Home Alone

For fans of the first Home Alone, brands that appear in the movie are part of the nostalgia. Each year, as we see the movie, we are transported back to the Reagan era. In spite of the three decades, however, the brands are fairly consistent.

The brands help define the experience of the movie. The biggest brand in the movie is of course American Airlines, which has its hub in Chicago, and would have been the most likely airline for the McCallister family to travel to Paris.

The American Airlines graphic identity in the movie is the 1967 version, designed by Henry Dreyfuss and actually put together by two Italian typographers. The font is Helvetica; the idea was to make the two names into one word, with two colors, i.e. AmericanAirlines. The eagle was by Henry Dreyfuss, who drew it because it symbolized the company.

Massimo Vignelli and Heinz Waibl set the logotype in plain and legible Haas Helvetica and made it half-red and half-blue to use the colours of USA’s national identity. “We wanted to make one word of American Airlines. There were no other logos then that were two colours of the same word. So we took the space away and split it by colour. We proceeded by logic, not emotion. Not trends and fashions” (M. Vignelli).

Archivio Grafica Italiana

The design disappeared in 2013, in an unfortunate rebrand.

Early on, Kevin is eating, and there is plenty of Reddi Whip. Kleenex also makes an appearance. The electric lineman, played by character actor Peter Siragusa, mentions that the Ma Bell telephone lines are a mess, even as the electric is fixed. The line is a classic:

Excuse me, ma’am, I wanted to let you know that your power is fixed, but the phone lines are a mess. It’s gonna take Ma Bell a couple of days to patch them up. Especially around the holidays.

Lineman, likely from Commonwealth Edison

There is a Marshall Field shopping bag in the parents’ bedroom.

The garage has two Buicks, which would have indicated the family’s status as aspiring upper middle class. To the left there is a giant Buick Electra Estate Wagon that barely fits in the garage, and a Buick LeSabre in the right. Note that the early garages on 1930s and 1940s houses were always smaller, as cars were narrower.

The pizza guy has a Plymouth Horizon, and the fake Oh-Kay Plumbing and Heating van is a Dodge Ram. Interesting that the Buick is seen as the wealthier brand.

When Kevin enjoys his first moments of freedom, he finds a Playboy from his brother, and also has Junior Mints, Hershey’s syrup, Frito Crunch Tators and Pepsi.

On the plane to Paris, the Peter McCallister is reading Nobody’s Angel by Thomas McGuane. In Paris, there is an SAS plane in the background.

Kevin’s bathroom scene has Aqua Fresh, Faberge cologne, White Rain shampoo, Right Guard spray deodorant and Shower to Shower deodorant powder. The drug store also has Chicklets, Freshen Up gum, Band Aids, Ultra Pampers.

The American Airlines tickets have Avis on the back, even though later, John Candy is driving a Budget van rental that takes Kate McCallister back to Chicago. While in bed, Kevin is watching The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, with a joke about Play Doh.

The grocery store scene has a number of brands, including Edge shaving cream and Traditional Home magazine at the counter. There is also a Holiday Crafts special magazine at the checkout. Hiding in the background in giant stacks are Duraflame logs.

The actual grocery purchases are a half gallon of milk, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Wonder Bread, Stouffer’s Frozen Turkey Dinner, Quilted Northern toilet paper (a four pack), Snuggle dryer sheets, Tropicana orange juice (half gallon), Wrappit! Plastic wrap and apparently generic soldier army men. The presence of Stouffer’s has a particular Chicago resonance as it is the home of the original Stouffer’s hotel brand.

The airport scene shows a Lark suitcase, which was sort of the standard issue for practical upper middle class travel. In Scranton, John Candy rents a Budget van.

Santa drives a very old, broken down Honda Civic.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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