How Banana Boat Ended Up in 'The D Train'

James Marsden in 'The D Train's' Banana Boat ad

A sunscreen ad starring James Marsden's Oliver Lawless kicks off the film's storyline as his classmate Dan (Jack Black) goes to L.A. to track down the commercial star.

In the indie comedy The D TrainJack Black's unpopular Dan Landsman, in the process of organizing his 20-year high-school reunion, first stumbles across his popular former classmate Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) in a sunscreen commercial that Dan catches on TV late one night. Dan rewinds and pauses the ad a couple of times and wakes up his wife and kids to see it. He then plays the commercial for them and even gets his son to help him record it on his phone. The spot leads Dan to think that Oliver's made it and he sets off for L.A. to convince his celebrity classmate to attend the reunion with him.

But the commercial isn't just for any sunscreen, it's for Banana Boat's Triple Defense Sunscreen for Men. And the R-rated, male-targeted movie provided just the right type of exposure for the brand.

"It's obviously a comedy, kind of tongue-in-cheek, certainly adult guy humor. It's a movie about everyday guys. They're doing some interesting and fun things but our product is really for that everyday guy," senior brand manager Chris Carballo tells The Hollywood Reporter. "[It's the] first sunscreen designed for men. We're looking to make sure that we let them know it's out there for them, the everyday guy who's doing things like trying to set up a high-school reunion or going about his life with his family…. Looking at a movie like this, when we look at it we want to make sure we're hitting the right target and that was a key piece for us of getting involved with the film…. As we looked at the movie, we knew that a ton of guys were going to watch the movie and we were focused on ensuring that as they watched the movie, they had the right message about the product."

Carballo explains that Banana Boat was contacted by The D Train's production company over a year ago, in the winter of 2014, and they were looking for a sunscreen to partner with for the movie. After the Banana Boat team reviewed the synopsis of the film, they determined that it made sense to integrate its Triple Defense Sunscreen for Men into the movie.

Co-writer/director Jarrad Paul told THR at the New York premiere of the film, co-hosted by Banana Boat, "We reached out to different people, and [the people at Banana Boat] were the ones that responded and really were excited about doing it…. We couldn't believe it, we were so grateful for them for doing it."

Co-writer/director Andrew Mogel added, "It really couldn't be more perfect. They were the best thing we could imagine."

Carballo wouldn't disclose details about whether there was a financial arrangement struck in exchange for Banana Boat's prominent placement in the film, the first time the brand has had a product in a movie to this extent. But Banana Boat did sponsor both the L.A. and New York premieres of the film, which hit theaters Friday.

The Banana Boat team also "wrote the majority of the ad [in the movie]," Carballo says.

"It was very important for us to ensure that we got that message out about Triple Defense: That it provides [heavy-duty] ActiveProtect technology, combats odor for guys, hydrates their skin," he explains. "It's important to get the awareness out there, we wanted to make sure people could see the product, but we're in the business of selling sunscreen. We really want to protect our consumers because we really want them to be able to enjoy that sun, have that freedom while being protected. It was important for us to be sure we really had the right wording in that ad."

It's still too early to see if Banana Boat's role has paid off in terms of increased purchases, Carballo says, "But as we get that data, we are certainly hoping that the interaction with the movie will help to support our sales."

"But we have seen that the product has been a little more buzzed and talked about in the media, which is something we like to see," he adds.

Watch the Banana Boat commercial scene from The D Train below.

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