Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ad Money Drives Out Good (Content)

Product placement is everywhere on TV. Blame TiVo. Blame BitTorrent. Blame iPods. Blame the increased competition for eyeballs. Blame greed. Blame anything or anybody you want. It doesn't really matter. Product placement is on the rise and it's blatant.

But product-based shows actually go way back. Geez, the nets dedicated one- and two-hour shows to single companies in the '50s! CBS aired ''The Ford 50th Anniversary Show'' on 6/15/1953 and ''The General Foods 25th Anniversary Show'' on 3/28/1954. NBC showed ''The General Motors 50th Anniversary Show'' on 11/17/1957.

Reality shows, like ''The Apprentice,'' revitalized product placement when they demonstrated that a show's premise could revolve around a consumer product without hurting the show's ability to entertain and attract an audience.

Now think back to last Tuesday's ep of ''The Office.'' Quite the coincidence that the show featured a Video iPod on the same day NBC announced that you could download eps of 11 of their series, including ''The Office,'' from iTunes.

Today? Fox's ''Stacked'' has an ep simply titled ''iPod.'' I can't even guess what the show might be about.

Now the big question. Which scripted series have ep titles that name a specific consumer product that also plays an important role in the show's premise? I've only found two:
  • iPod (''Stacked,'' 12/14/2005)
  • The Pez Dispenser (''Seinfeld,'' 1/15/1992)
Kind of a disappointing list. (If you know of others, please add them in the comments section.)
Update (14 Dec 2005; Noon EST): A loyal reader e-mailed me with some obvious product allusions that I missed, including:
  • The Junior Mint (''Seinfeld,'' 3/18/1993)
  • The Cadillac (''Seinfeld,'' 2/8/1996)
  • The One with Joey's Porsche (''Friends,'' 10/21/1999)
  • The Rose Cadillac (''Tequila & Bonetti,'' 1/31/1992)
There are plenty of ep titles that reference consumer products, but either don't say the product name in the show or use the reference for some other product. For example:
  • Bla-Z-Boy (''Frasier'')
  • Humm Vac (''Everybody Loves Raymond'')

1 comment:

Toby said...

Just found an episode that might fit into this category.

While looking through the epguides for "Judging Amy" I found 'sex, lies, and expedia.com'.