Product Placement

Queer Eye, the product placement magnet
I was asked at a seminar recently to describe the term “product placement” to the audience. I was making the point that the decline of the 30-second commercial was imminent and that advertisers were searching for new ways to display their wares. Hence, the effort to place products within the programming itself. AdAge reports today that the hit show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, has become the textbook model for product placement. Watch the show sometime with this in mind. The program features 5 gay men who help some hapless straight guy with a complete living-space-and-personal makeover prior to some important life event, most often involving the opposite sex. Paint, make-up, and liquor companies have already paid to have the Fab‑5, as they’re known, use their products during the makeover. Many others have sent out feelers. There’s a line, I think, that a program producer can cross using the product placement model where it becomes a Saturday Night Live skit. It’s heretofore been a no-no for the news business, although I clearly remember a time when the weather was “brought to you by” and the weather guy did live commercials. We shall see.

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