Movie prop, swag, product you can buy

Posted by Rob Walker on January 23, 2008
Posted Under: Entertainment,Products,The Designed Life

I have not seen the movie Juno. Maybe you have? I gather there is a scene in which the title character speaks on a “hamburger phone.” A phone that looks like a hamburger. I also gather that some actual hamburger phones were manufactured as swag for “select critics.” In poking around I see that Film Junk predicted just days ago:

A quick search on E-bay turns up an endless supply of these cheap novelty items, but I can guarantee you we’ll start seeing the officially licensed version in stores soon enough (probably when the movie hits DVD).

Perhaps there is no need to wait. It looks as if a site called Sourcing Map is selling them right now.

I’m not sure I get what Sourcing Map is, since the site bills itself as “a new way of getting merchandise from factory floors to retailers’ doors quickly and inexpensively.” Does that mean you have to be a retailer to buy from them? Not that I want one of these phones, I’m just curious. Also I notice the burger phone page says: “This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 05 December, 2006.” That’s odd, but maybe it’s a mistake.

I wonder what the story is with these phones? Who designed them, and did they suspect all along it would have an afterlife as a real-world product? Was it designed for the film, or did it already exist? If it’s something that was in the script, and then executed as an actual prop and then a working item, does the script-writer get royalties for phone sales?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I saw it, and the point seemed to be that here was a teenager in a grown-up predicament, and here she is talking on a silly novelty phone. There have been so many novelty phones sold of various kinds that it would not surprise me if one was sold well prior to the movie and the phone was selected as a prop to illustrate the point. A Mickey Mouse phone would have done the same, but the hamburger phone was even more ridiculous.

It was not a big part of the movie, and I wouldn’t have expected any hamburger phone demand based on it. You never know what teens will pick up on, like the Vote for Pedro shirts from Napoleon Dynamite.

Written By chip on January 23rd, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

That Napoleon Dynamite comparison seems right to me. I’m keeping an eye on this, still not sure if this was an already existing phone, but some comments elsewhere suggest it was … meaning potentially it was just an obscure novelty item that might get some fresh life by way of the movie. We’ll see…

Written By murketing on January 24th, 2008 @ 9:18 am

Rush Limbaugh has used a Paul Shanklin parody about the “’CrapCo’ Burger and Fries Cell Phone” designed to deceive police when using a cell phone while driving… the parody has been out there for a long time (2 years or more?) – it’s hilarious.

Written By Dan on January 24th, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

That Dec. 5 date may not be a mistake. Currently (6 pm, 1/24/08), there are 54 hamburger phones available for purchase on eBay (, some from as far away as Australia and Hong Kong. (I’m surprised BuzzFeed hasn’t picked up on all of this yet.) Given how self-conscious almost every element of the movie is (largely to the film’s benefit; I was certainly charmed), from the dialogue to the clothing to the music, I don’t think the selection of a hamburger phone was a random way to express Juno’s predicament. Chip’s analysis is good, but I think his last point is a tad off: a Mickey Mouse phone would have conveyed something very different.

Written By Braulio on January 24th, 2008 @ 7:13 pm