Product placement: the final nail in broadcasting’s coffin

Product placement: the final nail in broadcasting’s coffin
Okay. Here comes a report from The New York Times that says Sears Roebuck & Company is paying ABC to display its brands in the new reality series, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

The deal, estimated to be costing Sears more than $1 million, includes the placement of products like Craftsman tools, Kenmore appliances and Lands’ End home furnishings in each of the six episodes. During the series — now in production for a regular run expected to begin in January or February — there could be scenes of trucks delivering merchandise from Sears, plumbers and other workers from Sears home-improvement services making repairs and visits to Sears stores by the show’s makeover-team cast.
Product placement advertising is the strategy du jour given us by the marketing industry as a way to overcome viewers’ tendency to “tune out” during commercials and, more importantly, to combat the rapid growth of DVR technology, which allows viewers to skip commercials altogether. It’s not creative. It’s sad. And it’s further evidence of an industry in decline that is desperately searching for ways to maintain the status quo. First of all, everybody sees through product placement. Watch a current movie with any 10-year old, and they’ll point out the ads for you. Secondly, broadcasters’ greed will muck the whole thing up, so that shows will resemble NASCAR race cars. Think it won’t happen? Thirdly — and this is evidenced in the Sears/ABC deal — the commercial pods will continue, even though the networks will be making money off the program’s content. No thanks. Give me my video on demand service. I’ll pay for it, and that’ll be that.


  1. Product placement is sooooooo dumb. When I see it, I’m always reminded of The Truman Show, the great Jim Carrey flick about TV and how full of you-know-what it is. His “wife” was always commenting on various products to thin air, and Truman would be like, “WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO??” It was funny, because it’s true. That’s what product placement is like. Transparent and stupid.

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