Sunday, February 5, 2012

TV Stuff: Product Placement

My last TV Stuff post was about things people who are no longer enjoying a show waste their time bitching about online.
This post is about the main thing people who are still enjoying a show seem to waste their time bitching about online. Product Placement.

We've all seen it. You watch The Big Bang Theory, one of the boys opens up his laptop, and you clearly see the alien head on the cover. An Alienware computer made by Dell. Product Placement.

On Chuck, everyone had an iPhone and they frequently ate Subway sandwiches, which, when one was in a scene, they would often say what they had on their sub, or what they liked eat from Subway. Product Placement.

On Fringe, Walter eats Red Vines red liqourice, mostly from clearly marked Red Vines packets (on a couple of occasions he's had them in a glass jar, but one of those times he'd put a 'Red Vines' label on the jar.) They also show shots of the Nissan cars they drive, pulling away from curbs, at a camera angle that displays the car logo. We get inside of the car shots with the fancy dashboard showing. Product Placement.

On Warehouse 13, Myka eats Twizzlers red liquorice, from clearly marked Twizzlers packets. Claudia talks to Steve about his hybrid car, running through the car specs. We see shots of the cars as they drive down roads, car logos again on display. Product Placement.

You may not watch any of these shows. You may watch but not really notice the Product Placement. You may not notice it in the shows you do watch. It's there. And if you're not bitching about it in a forum somewhere, you probably, sensibly don't really care.

Here's the thing. I knew Product Placement existed, but until I started noticing people complaining about it so much, I didn't really pay attention to it, except in the way it was intended by the advertising companies (ohh nice Alienware computer, hey I do like Subway, I really want an iPhone, that kind of thing.)

Now that I do notice it more, I still don't get the endless complaining. As for the way it's used in the show, well, long before product placement was a thing, we would see shots of cars pulling away from curbs and driving down roads. We'd even see characters discussing their cars. It's just that now it's specific cars added for advertising purposes, instead of just to pad out scenes. Characters have always eaten food, snacks, and talked about what they're eating. Again, now it's just specific foods and snacks.

The problem so many viewers seem to have is "I don't watch a show to see ads. That's what ad breaks are for." many people are using the ad breaks to quickly flick over and see what's on another channel. How many people are using the ad breaks to go to the toilet or get a snack. How many people are recording their show, and fast-forwarding through the ads. And how many of them are downloading their shows, and not seeing any ads at all.

All the people doing all this complaining seem to conveniently forget that it's the ad money that is keeping their show on the air, and the companies paying for this want to make sure their product is seen.

I don't work in television, or in advertising, but I do like my shows. This year Fringe is on the bubble for renewel. It may not get a season 5, because it costs so much to make. So if they want to have an episode where every scene has either a Nissan car, or a pack of Red Vines, or the Fringe team in a Nissan eating Red Vines, as long as it keeps the show on the air I won't complain.

Product Placement works like any other advertising, with the bonus that you get to see people you like interacting with the product in question rather than annoying overly load music, or overly enthusiastic announcers.

And just like any other advertising sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it will make you buy something else entirely.

My product placement story (which I know you've all been waiting for): I don't drive or care about cars, so this will be about liquorice.

Right now, my two favourite shows are Fringe and Warehouse 13. They both product place red liquorice. Red Vines & Twizzlers. I'm a Red Vines girl, when I can get them. When I can't I don't have any at all. I never go for the Twizzlers. So sometimes when I'm watching Fringe, I'll see Walter eating a Red Vine, and think 'I kinda feel like Red Vines'. And then maybe the next day, I'll go buy some.
But when I'm watching Warehouse 13, and I see Myka eating Twizzlers, I usually think, 'ew Twizzlers. Red Vines are better. I kinda feel like Red Vines. I love Myka.' And the next day I'll go buy some Red Vines. So the Warehouse 13 Product Placement actually inspires me to buy a different brand.

****This post is not sponsered by Red Vines, although if they would like to give me some money, I would happily start Product Placing it into all my other posts.****


Toni said...

****This post is not sponsered by Red Vines, although if they would like to give me some money, I would happily start Product Placing it into all my other posts.****


Windsmoke. said...

Every James Bond movie from Dr. No in 1962 onwards has product placement from smokes, cars, cola, wrist watches so its really nothing new :-).

Jayne said...

Missed too many eps of Fringe to get into it but Foxtel started it from the beginning last night (yay) so we're getting into properly now.
I just smirk at product placement then ignore it, it gets my fav shows on air.
Giggled at a recent Bones ep where they had Sea Chimps instead of Sea Monkeys, obviously Sea Monkeys were not sponsoring that particular dead body!

River said...

I don't like the ad breaks, especially the ones that are recorded at full volume, or those that advertise their stuff in such a way as to imply that we're not clever enough to see through them, (Aaah bra anyone?), so I use that time to do other things, but product placement in a show is fne with me. Often I'll see something and say (to myself since I'm the only one here), oooh! I like that, wonder what it is, then later in the show I'll see the logo or brand name. To me, it's a much more convenient way of advertising and if it helps keep a show going for another season, that's even better.

Kath Lockett said...

I have always noticed product placement ever since seeing 'Footloose in 1984 when a mother from the backward country town is passing our her homemade cookies ....

.... that are held in a brand spanking new Nike shoe box!

But, I don't really care that much about it. I remember on shows like Seinfeld - and the Big Bang Theory today - that when it comes to drinks, they'll switch brands all the time.