"Friends" Don’t Really Shop at Pottery Barn?

Saw in the WSJ that the FCC is now scrutinizing product placement and may be putting new rules in place to require more overt disclosure of who has paid to “use their products as props.” Seems someone from under a rock still thinks that the “Idol’ judges just all happen to like drinking Coke – what a coinky dink.

Product placement has been on the rise since more and more viewers are zapping their way through ads via TiVO and DVR. In an effort to be more creative, more product placements have crept their way into our favorite fictional worlds, making them seem a bit more real. I can forget I’m watching a fictional character much easier when I see him drinking Bud Light rather than a can of “BEER.” Call me crazy.

Some call this “Trojan Horse” advertising. What do you think? I personally think that if advertisers want to continue to sponsor entertainment in a non-obtrusive way that not only keeps the costs I pay down, but makes the show I’m watching seem more real, I’m all for it. Where it gets sticky is when writers are forced to write placements into the script or create situations that requie a trip to Target. I don’t agree with creative constraint, but most of the time, it seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? And for me, the added realism is a nice touch. Now, I’m not for the character turning to the camera and saying “Buy this” but when CSI has a meeting with various law enforcement agencies via a Cisco video conferencing device, it appears rather seamless to the storyline.

Why do you think daytime dramas were ever called “Soap” Operas, after all? The concept of sponsoring content is not a new one, although having it creep into Teri Hatcher’s laundry room on Wisteria Lane is something we are going to start seeing more and more.


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