Chevrolet drives into 'Hawaii Five-O,' along with defunct Mercury

By David Kiley on Tue Oct 12 2010

Mercuryfive-o

General Motors' Chevrolet division has a product integration deal with CBS and its new hit series Hawaii Five-O. Before I hit on the absurdity of Monday's episode, and how GM factored into the plot, let me take a minute to express my sadness that Ford did not take the opportunity, as it did back in the 1960s with the original show.
  Not only did Steve McGarrett drive big black Mercury cop cars in the original, but the show was filled with Fords driven by bad guys, politicians and the other cops (Chin Ho, played by Kam Fong, and Kono played by Zulu ... why did they change the actors' names anyway?). McGarrett drove a 1967 Merc Marquis, a Merc Park Lane Brougham and then a 1974 Merc Marquis until the show wrapped in 1980. Yes, they had Steve driving a 6-year-old car. I can recall one bad guy who drove an awesome Ford Bronco open-top SUV.
  It's not like Ford could have re-upped with Mercury for the new series. The automaker announced this year that it is phasing out the brand. Still, in the second episode this year, Mercury got a nod when young Steve was in the garage of his just-killed father. In the garage, there was a car with a cover on it. Steve partially pulls the sheet off the nose of the car to show the Mercury name above the grille. That scene has no other purpose but to pay homage to the cars Jack Lord drove in the original. Indeed, actor Alex O'Loughlin, who plays McGarrett, will be seen restoring the old Merc as a sub-plot.

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Brands line up for Undercover Boss' kid gloves treatment

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Jul 29 2010
Undercover-boss  Producers of the surprise CBS hit Undercover Boss had an uphill slog in the first season getting CEOs of recognizable companies to agree to expose internal flaws and problems for a national prime-time audience. (The docudrama follows that incognito honcho as he finds out about ills in the system and promises to fix them). Now that the show's a ratings winner, bigwigs are coming out of the woodwork to get their brands featured on the feel-good hour. They've also discovered that it's not actually a warts-and-all look into the corporation. More like a couple warts, followed by a quick resolution. Cue tears! CBS just announced the lineup at Wednesday morning's kickoff of the annual Television Critics Association press tour in L.A. Next season, look for top dogs from NASCAR (Steve Phelps, svp and CMO), DirecTV (Mike White, chairman, president and CEO), Chiquita Brands International (Fernando Aguirre, chairman and CEO) and Great Wolf Resorts (Kimberly K. Schaefer, CEO). And definitely expect more water works.

'Undercover Boss' would be more difficult with celebrity bosses

Posted on Mon Mar 1 2010

Martha F***ing Stewart does not do dishes, and the Olsen twins make really lousy manual laborers. So says this skit from this weekend's Saturday Night Live, where the cast parodied the CBS hit Undercover Boss with a less-likely-to-succeed show dubbed Undercover Celebrity Boss. Among the discoveries: Sir Richard Branson can't really go incognito. Not with that ego. Or that hair. (Kudos, Bill Hader, for an impersonation well done.) Once SNL pokes fun at you, you're part of the conversation, so CBS and its product-placement-heavy show must be thrilled. And the big ratings just keep coming. Sunday's episode, where the CEO of White Castle made a mess of the square-burger chain's assembly line, drew 15.1 million viewers and beat even the heavily promoted Jerry Seinfeld-produced Marriage Ref on NBC. Critics have called Undercover Boss emotionally manipulative, though viewers can't seem to get enough. Next up: behind the scenes at Louisville's historic racetrack Churchill Downs, where the CEO getting his hands dirty should really be something to see.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Brands take good with bad on CBS's red-hot 'Undercover Boss'

Posted on Mon Feb 22 2010

7eleven1

CEOs go incognito to ferret out trouble and unfairness in their own companies in the CBS reality show Undercover Boss. What could possibly go wrong? So far, not much, and marketers like Hooters, Waste Management and 7-Eleven have seen their brands buffed and polished for a national prime-time audience. The ratings for the series, which launched in the plum post-Super Bowl slot, have been stellar. The show even beat NBC's Winter Olympics on Sunday night with 13.6 million viewers, making it the highest-rated entertainment program against stiff competition. Not that everyone watching is sold on the concept. "The PR for these shows is amazing," wrote one commenter on Entertainment Weekly's episode recap, while others point out that careful editing and story selection is probably keeping us from seeing the real corporate problems. But some viewers are hooked on watching bosses in the trenches championing the little guys. Fans say Sunday's episode with 7-Eleven's Joe DePinto had some real heart-tugging moments. Watch it here. Next up: Behind the scenes at White Castle.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Subway's support of 'Chuck' has not gone unnoticed in TV land

Posted on Tue Aug 4 2009

NBC spy-lite series Chuck may not have the market cornered on partnerships with fast-food restaurants that rescue TV shows on the verge of cancellation. Glenn Gordon Caron, executive producer of paranormal-tinged drama Medium, said he had an ace up his sleeve to stay in the good graces of NBC at renewal time. "We had a whole Quiznos thing set up," he said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. He was kidding, but it sure wouldn't have hurt to write a story line for a big media-spending fast-food marketer, like Chuck did with Subway. Medium, which stars Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber, was indeed dumped by NBC, even though it had better ratings than Chuck. The latter show's buzz, whipped up in part by Subway promotions and stunts, translated to a new-season order. Medium, meanwhile, will head to CBS, paired with the well-watched Ghost Whisperer. Caron sees a silver lining (read: better marketing) around the fall launch of the show's sixth season. "CBS has already run more promos than NBC did in five years," he said. "But I say that with love in my heart."

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

CBS's 'Twilight Zone' product line is missing a certain someone

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

What, no Talky Tina doll?
  CBS Consumer Products is rolling out a line of swag to mark the 50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone, but so far it's missing one of the freakiest toys ever immortalized in entertainment (even creepier than Chucky). Series creator and narrator Rod Serling introduced Talky Tina, who was a nightmare-inducing version of Mattel's popular Chatty Cathy, as "a doll that does everything, a lifelike creation of plastic and springs and painted smile." She took a real disliking to Telly Savalas in the 1963 episode called "Living Doll," telling him, "I'm beginning to hate you," and eventually, "I'm going to kill you." Guess what happened?
  CBS plans more benign tchotchkes for the classic thriller series, along the lines of trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives, a commemorative stamp, interactive DVD trivia and board games, and holiday ornaments from Hallmark (OK, that last one's a little weird). There's also bobbleheads and action figures from Bif Bang Pow. They can't hurt anyone, right? Just don't make them mad.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

'Star Trek' fans, make your own official Captain Kirk cartoons!

Posted on Tue Feb 10 2009

Trek-animations

There was a Trekkie in one of my creative writing classes in college. He would turn in his own original Star Trek stories for his assignments, and the teacher would give him A's. I suspect both of them will love this new offering from GoAnimate. For the first time, CBS is allowing their licensed Star Trek characters to be repurposed for use in a virtual comic-book type setting. Now the Trekkie and the teacher can make their Spock and the Orion Slave Girl stories come true in cartoon form. I am so happy for them both.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

CBS plans reality show that puts singles in arranged marriages

Posted on Tue Feb 3 2009

Arranged-marriage copy

Is it the Slumdog Millionaire effect, or is it just a TV network's awkward way of updating the tired relationship-reality-show genre?
  CBS says it's planning to air an unscripted show tentatively called Arranged Marriage, from the producers of Top Chef and Project Runway. In it, the families and friends of single people will screen and choose their mates, and the couples will actually get hitched. For life? That might earn some future seasons.
  CBS, the top-rated broadcaster, has shown a taste for controversy in some of its reality shows in the past. Kid Nation caused a stir for seemingly stranding unsupervised youngsters in the desert under harsh conditions (the ratings didn't live up to the pre-launch hype, though). And a planned remake of The Beverly Hillbillies never got off the ground because of a Southern-tinged backlash.
  The network says Arranged Marriage is a documentary-like experiment of the Eastern cultural practice heading West. No word if cash, household goods or farm animals will change hands.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


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