Soap operas are full of evil twins and amnesia victims. But there's some real-life stuff in there sometimes. But what happens when there's too much real life—i.e., a month's worth of product placement for heart-healthy soup and fruit juice? The fans get pissed.
ABC's All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital spent much of February not-so-subtly touting the American Heart Association's "Go Red" heart-disease awareness campaign with its brand partner, Campbell Soup Co. The effort included characters suffering heart attacks, a bunch of "Go Red" fashion shows and fancy balls, cameos from Campbell execs (which we mentioned earlier), and frequent in-show mentions of V8 Fusion juice drinks and Healthy Request low-salt soups. Fans quickly got tired of it all. Blogged one: "It made me long for the days when sitcoms used to have cans of soda marked 'soda' as to not give any undue plugs to real name brand products." Another was more blunt: "I love that Campbell's has made ABC soaps its biach for the month of February; it's just so ridiculous and hilarious."
This is after the ABC/Campbell partnership made Soap Opera Digest's "worst of 2008" list (this isn't a first-time deal) and caused a fan to ask why last year's integration didn't "just put a picture of whatever crappy Campbell's product they want me to buy in the lower left-hand corner of the screen throughout the show." The ABC soaps, which, like all daytime dramas, have lost considerable amounts of viewers over time, saw a bit of an uptick in viewership for the just-ended February sweeps. So, the placements may have hiked the fans' blood pressure, but not enough to change the channel.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley