Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good and Bad Product Placement

Product placement on soaps can be very obnoxious at times but it can also be integrated into a show seamlessly.

On last night's 90210, the Dr. Pepper was all over the Dixon and Annie scenes. They went on a road trip and Annie opened a cooler and had to choose between Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper. From that point, we saw the Pepper over and over again. When they pulled over at a rest stop so Annie could use the bathroom, Dixon said: “...maybe if you stopped drinking so much Dr. Pepper!” This is not unusual for the new 90210, but last night it seemed more in your face than ever. I've heard that next week's show does not feature Dr. Pepper at all which will be a welcome change.

On Tuesday's THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Rick and Steffy spent time looking at the bridal registry on and pointing out some of the products they offer. This might have been tolerable if it didn't go on so long. Perhaps this was more effective on the target audience for the ad, which definitely wasn't me. Even though it made sense with their story, the execution was so obvious that it was a turnoff for me as a viewer.

Steffy: See? It's easy. We're at

Rick: Mm-hmm.

Steffy: And then we go to "wedding registry," and then you click on "create your registry." We'll use my e-mail, so all right. I am Steffy, the bride. (Giggles)

Rick: (Chuckles)

Steffy: And you are Rick, the groom. All right, let's check out all the cool stuff they have. Oh, wow, look at all the china patterns to choose from.

Rick: Oh, wait, they have, um, a "bed & bath" section. Click on that.

Steffy: Okay. Oh, that comforter is so nice. I like that.

Rick: Yeah, but you know what? You're not even going to need a comforter when I'm in bed keeping you warm.

Steffy: Oh, I'm n-not? (Laughs)

Rick: (Chuckles)

Steffy: Are you sure about that?

Rick: Mm-hmm. I'll tell you what, you can register for whatever your little heart desires.

Steffy: Hey, no, no. You gotta help me. What do you want?

Rick: No, but see? That's the thing. All I want is you. (Growls)

Steffy: I love you.

Rick: I love you.

Brooke: Uh, sorry to interrupt.

Steffy: Oh, no, it's okay.

Rick: (Laughs)

Steffy: We were just, um, doing our wedding registry online.

Brooke: Oh. That's what you were doing.

Steffy: Oh, no, no. We really were. You can pick out anything and not-- not even leave your office. It's cool.

But product placement doesn't have to be so annoying or distracting. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS has incorporated chain restuarant Applebee's into the action since day one. I can only think of one time in three years where it stood out as unusual and, even then, it seemed more like a producer's wink at the audience. Julie and Tyra have worked at Applebee's, the residents of Dillon frequent the place often and sometimes post-game celebrations end up there. But it's no different than any fictional restaurant on a soap. We see the menu, see the logo (just like other shows) with the differnce being it's a real location. Applebee's is blended into FNL in a seamless way.

If we are going to continue to see more and more product placement, let's hope shows take the lead of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and find creative ways to work products into storylines in a non-obtrusive way.

The FNL episodes on DirecTV were "brought to you by" Vaseline. We saw a one minute commercial at the beginning and end of the show but the rest was commercial free. AMERICAN IDOL has been going to commercial but showing "never seen before" auditions in the middle of the commercial break as a way to get people to not fast forward. Both of these things are options we may see more of in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Roger, that coincides with my post on Applebee's and FNL from awhile back (see here). By the way, as you point out, product placement and soaps have a long history with one another, a topic I delved into during my thesis work. See more here.