Friday, September 3, 2010

I don't mind Product Placement

I admit I skip the commercials every chance I get.  I occasionally miss out on a funny one, but I'm willing to take that risk.

So I don't mind that programs are resorting to product placements within the shows - if it is done organically.

It's not like this is a new practice.  It's been done since the days of radio.  For all I know, maybe the Shakespearean Globe players shilled products within their plays.  Somewhere along the line, it became accepted practice to use generics within the program.  No one wanted to alienate possible advertisers.  Disguising the brand of soda or bread, or turning products so the brands weren't visible made the programs less realistic.

In my circle, if you buy a new phone, the first question is, which one?  (Motorola Cliq)  Ditto for cars.  (Mazda Protege)  If I ask someone to grab me a can of pop, I don't leave the choice up to them.  I specify Diet Pepsi.  So discussing what we've bought, by brand, is natural and realistic.

Product placement can be natural or jarring, sometimes within the same program.  I find it endearing that Myka Bering on Warehouse 13 likes Twizzlers.  I only hope the actress, Joanne Kelly does too.  When Myka is nibbling on a Twizzler within the scene, or buying them at a convenience store, the actions seem genuine.  However, when she goes to her class reunion and there is a big container of Twizzlers on the sign-in desk, that screamed "Product Placement".

Ditto Covert Affairs.  The scene where Annie's sister, Danielle takes Bud Light out of the refrigerator was blatant product placement, but in a sly way I found amusing.  The scene where Jai was doing a stakeout by using the car's rear camera was awesome.  I was impressed at the new use of technology.  (Yes, he was too close to the house not to be seen. Different issue.)  But moments later he walks behind the car and instead of following the actor, the camera pans the rear of the car to show the model name.  Buzz!  Penalty for blatant promotion.  And it didn't work.  I don't know what kind of car it was.

If White Collar does product placement, it is so subtle as to be completely natural.  In this week's episode, Neil mentions Peter looks good in his Armani suit.  Was that a product placement or character development?  And the villain's propensity for a specific kind of liquor.  Product Placement or plot device?  Lastly, the frequent mentions of gourmet coffee blends.  Product Placement or plot device?  Or both?

Product placement can affect everything from which model cars the characters drive, the computers on their desk, and their favorite foods.  As long as it fits into the story, I don't mind.  I prefer that to the 20 minutes of commercials. 

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