Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Product Intergration: There is an Ad in my Entertainment

I've been planning on this post for a while. So, I ventured across the Internet - thinking my use f "integration" fit the topic better - and just as I'm about to link articles, there the word is. Seems everyone is using it and I knew nothing about it.

Now what am I going on about? Overdone product placement in programs, films, and written fiction. The easiest way to see this in action is to watch any recent episode of the show Eureka. It's hard to overlook lines such as: "I really like your new Subaru [model name here]."

Pretty much everything appearing in the show is a product. Basically, they use real products - not cans labeled "BEER," but commercially produced beer. They speak about it, place it in clear view, and then speak about it again.

Having a bit of experience in the advertising world from working with a magazine, I can tell you that there will probably only be 1 product of a given brand per show. This means if Subaru is advertising, then all other cars become generic. If Coke is advertising, then there are no other soft drinks with real names. And their mentioning must be placed within appropriate editorial - meaning, the have to write the "integration" into the show as content.

The NBC show 30 Rock does this as well, although they make fun of themselves for doing it as though to make it appear they are not really doing it. Sounds more confusing than it is.

It does seem that the FCC has responded. This quote comes from a Washington Post article:

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said product placements and integration into
story lines have increased as television viewers increasingly use recording
devices like TiVo and DVRs to fast forward through commercials. Currently,
agency's rules require television programmers to disclose sponsors who have
embedded products into shows. Those disclosures typically are done during the
credits at the end of the show, which fly by viewers in small script.

"We want to make sure consumers understand and are aware that they are
being advertised to," said Martin, who first pushed to clarify disclosure rules
last fall. "We ask how we should update our rules to reflect current trends in
the industry."

I'm not sure listing anything in the speed-of-light, crunched into a small box credits will help anyone realize a product is being promoted. But I suppose it is a start.

And yes, it is happening in fiction as well, but I won't list books titles - they are easy to find. What once was thought to be verisimilitude is now actual product placement.

What is more striking is that Nielsen is already tracking the product integration. Yes, these are the folks who track TV ratings, ringtone sales, book sales, and pretty much anything that needs tracking. I wonder if this means shows with low reception to product integration will be cancelled? Too many people watching and not enough buying.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've used specific names for products before, for versimilitude. Guess I should have charged.

Rick said...

I imagine shows with low product integration numbers combined with low ratings will be more likely to be tossed out the window. After all, these shows are only created to sell products.

The entertainment industry, especially the music component, is geared toward making us feel good enough to buy the products they're contracted to push. A friend of mine in the advertising business used to tell me, "Get them dancing and they'll buy what you're selling."

I think that's what's happening with product integration- they have us grooving with whatever the entertainment platform is, so they figure we're easy marks and show us a few products.

Have you noticed the product integrations are always positive? I'm waiting for the tv coroner to say, "Well, if he didn't drink so much Coke, he'd probably still be alive." Or the character who was forced to use Viagara because Morton Pot Pies stole his manhood.

You see what saying is that I'm surpised they haven't done what the Democrats and Republicans have done for decades- go negative. There must be a reason for their only positive approach, and perhaps politicians can learn from it. Perhaps, in the future, product integration into entertainment venues can include political promotion. Something to look forward to.

Starbuck O'Shea said...

Completely OT: Are you attending ConClave, William? :>

Product placement sounds like a good con panel debate, you know.


P.S. Charles... how would you charge? I'm curious. The foofaraw of doing contracts almost seems to outweigh the benefits. :0

Anonymous said...

My favorite spoof of product-placement was in the "Wayne's World" movie.

Unknown said...

I know what you are talking about as I am fan of Eureka and various other shows that do this. My only thought is that at least the advertising is in plain view and not subliminal. You know exactly what they want you to buy and why they want you to buy it so there is still free will in play here.

Akasha Savage. said...

In the novel I'm writing I always use product names: my main character drinks Becks and drives a Nissan...does that mean I'm advertising?!

William Jones said...

Charles - You've missed out on som extra cash there. :) So have I.

Anne - Yep, I'll be at Conclave, and we could do a panel on this. Might be fun.

Jeff - Looks like the film was ahead of itself.

William Jones said...

Rhys - Quite true. I'm not bothered by it. My real worry is if the results are scored, then the will the writing of the show have to be altered for better product intergration? And the results are being scored.

William Jones said...

Akasha - Unless you're being paid by Becks or Nissan, then you're not advertising. :) Then again, I'd bet they'd have some creative control at that point, and only good things could be said about the products and their selling points would have to be highlight - such as: He drank Becks because it was the best beer around. With fewer calories than ....

Anonymous said...

This kind of begs the question, should we seek corporate sponsorship for the next anthology? Could make for some interesting scenes.

"We'd all be dead by now if Chuck hadn't used that bottle of Coke and pack of Mentos against the Deep One."