'Days of Our Lives' product placement is officially out of control

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 16 2010

Cheerios, made with whole grain, will help you study, keep you fit and maybe even patch up a rift between you and that hunky med student. Such is the takeaway from a recent scene on Days of Our Lives, which shows just how aggressive daytime soap operas have gotten with product placement. The brand is as much a star in these scenes as the actors, with lingering shots of the familiar yellow cereal box, talk about its low sugar content and its viability as a late-night snack. It's not just for breakfast anymore, you know! American soaps have been veering into brand-crazy telenovela territory for some time now, with cozy sponsor relationships spawning some fairly blatant brand integration. The shows, which have been hemorrhaging viewers for years, are looking for any way to stay on the air. That advertiser cash is awfully attractive. Soap fans have proven to be a forgiving lot. They notice the placements, of course, but they're willing to put up with them if they seem to have some connection to the story. These three clips from Days of Our Lives, courtesy of The Live Feed, may test their patience. (In addition to Cheerios, the series spreads the love to Chex Mix and Wanchai Ferry frozen Chinese food). See what you think. But remember the context. It's melodrama, not The Wire.

Advertisers continue to love the heat in the 'Top Chef' kitchen

Posted on Tue Jun 15 2010


Bravo has thrown together a medley of sponsors for Top Chef D.C., including returning sponsor Toyota, whose Sienna minivans will be provided whenever contestants need to run to the store to pick up the wrong foods. New sponsors for the seventh season include Dial NutriSkin (the new $125,000 grand-prize benefactor), Samsung, Hilton Hotels, Kikkoman and Snyder’s of Hanover. In addition to promoting these brands on the show, Top Chef D.C. personnel are being farmed out to sponsors' ad campaigns. Host Padma Lakshmi is the face of a NutriSkin Facebook campaign, where she will perhaps deal with any pimples she got from eating Hardee's/Carl's Jr. burgers. And more integration is planned for Hilton and Samsung. If they keep this up, the contestants will need something like Nascar uniforms just so they can keep track of who's footing the bill for what. This deal looks like it's going to benefit everyone involved, though, and the show's previous seasons already yielded positive results from product integration. It would be nice if this approach meant fewer commercial breaks during the program itself, but that might be asking too much. More blood for the blood god and all that.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Will Arnett, Jason Bateman's new venture begins with Orbit gum

Posted on Mon Jun 14 2010

Will Arnett and Jason Bateman may not be collaborating on a movie version of Arrested Development (or are they?), but the actors are co-starring in their first piece of branded entertainment. They've launched a production entity called DumbDumb, aligned themselves with content-as-commercial maven Ben Silverman and created a five-minute webisode for Wrigley's Orbit chewing gum that's a smart little piece of absurdist theater. "The Prom Date" is part of the "Dirty Shorts" video series built around the brand's promise to clean up any icky situation. (Bateman plays a doting dad, Aubrey Plaza is his eye-rolling teen-age daughter, and Arnett is her social-studies teacher/"soulmate"/surprise prom date). It's co-produced by Orbit and Energy BBDO in Chicago. DumbDumb, which plans to produce more "Dirty Shorts," has officially hung out its shingle now and will produce digital spots for other advertisers, too. My quick read: They couldn't have chosen a more perfect launch partner than the cheeky Orbit, and they couldn't have nailed the brand sensibility any better. For the sake of branded entertainment (and those who have to consume an awful lot of it, some of it really awful), I hope DumbDumb gets tons of work. And unless and until that Arrest Development flick ever comes about, this may be the only chance that fans will have to see these wacky guys together. Go with the product-placement gods, you two.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

iPad's 'Modern Family' cameo worth close to $1 million for Apple

Posted on Thu Apr 8 2010


Who says you can't put a price on publicity? The Apple iPad product placement in last week's episode of the ABC hit sitcom Modern Family might've been free, but it sure was worth a chunk of change. Joyce Julius & Associates estimates the iPad hauled in some $650,000 worth of television exposure and another $250,000 from print and Internet stories about the extensive integration. The episode, dubbed "Game Changer," centered on goofy gadget-lover Phil Dunphy and his lust for getting an iPad for his birthday. He did end up with one—he even got to blow out the virtual candles—but not until his family went to extreme lengths to secure the coveted e-tablet. (Faking a terminal illness was involved.) The iPad had nine name checks in the show and appeared on screen for 37 seconds, the research firm said. (A few of those were in the final scene, when Phil stroked his new iPad and professed his love—out loud.) The Apple name itself, in addition to being the Dunphy household's computer brand of choice, had nine seconds of face time and one verbal reference, according to the research. About 9.5 million people watched the show, during which Apple bought no ads. If it had, it would've needed to cough up $130,388 for a 30-second spot. No need for that, though. As usual, Apple wins again.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Apple's iPad gets 30 minutes of love from ABC's 'Modern Family'

Posted on Thu Apr 1 2010


All of geekdom is salivating over the launch of the iPad this Saturday, and nerdy Phil, one of the main characters on ABC's hit sitcom Modern Family, was no exception in this week's episode, dubbed "Game Changer." In fact, the self-described early adopter, whose birthday on the show coincides with the debut of the coveted tablet, says that "Steve Jobs and God" must've gotten together to make his special day even more special. One of the episode's main plots revolves around the wacky pursuit of an iPad after Phil's wife oversleeps and misses the initial batch, which sold like hot cakes in the wee hours. So, yes, there's a lot of very valuable product placement that the device doesn't even need. I'm convinced Apple paid nothing here, simply giving a nod to the writers to liberally sprinkle in iPad references and glam shots at will. Expect this to be the first in a long line of iPad cameos on TV series. In this case, it certainly fits with a character that fans have come to love as a techie who'd be crushed without the newest must-have gadget. And when he finds out that his son put out the word that he was dying in order to score an iPad, he'll be OK with it.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

There's no lack of product placement in Lady Gaga's latest video

Posted on Mon Mar 15 2010

The new Lady Gaga video is finally out—my palms are sweaty!—and it does not disappoint on creative short film, bumping beat and product placement levels. Oh, Gaga, ever the brand ambassador. The pop singer/found-object-fashionplate crams in Plenty of Fish, Wonder Bread, Miracle Whip, Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke (empty cans serve as rollers for her fabulous hair) and two, count 'em two, placements for Polaroid in the music vid for her newest single, "Telephone." Lady Gaga signed on a couple of months back to be the marketer's creative director and inventor of specialty products. No one really knows what that means, but judging from her first video release since announcing the deal, it translates to a flash of an ad and Gaga snapping an instant pic of Beyoncé in a video that's racked up more than 15 million views on YouTube since last Thursday. Hey, the girl is hot. If you're not already inclined to watch the video—who are you, by the way?—here are a few more enticements: "prison for bitches," Beyoncé in destroyed denim shorts that are a fraction of the size of Daisy Dukes, and the first appearance since Kill Bill of the Pussy Wagon. Yeah, take a seat.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Oscar-winning short film Logorama outs Mr. Clean

Posted on Wed Mar 10 2010

No brands were harmed during the filming of Logorama, according to the producer of the 16-minute short that won an Oscar the other night. Guess that depends on your definition of "harmed," since the whole film revolves around a logo-littered dystopian Los Angeles where Ronald McDonald packs heat, Mr. Clean goes gay and MGM's lion loses his roar. No lawsuits, so far, stemming from the animated short, but keep your eyes peeled. It's mighty ballsy of H5, a French company best known for its commercials and music videos, to pack the project with mascots from Pringle's chips and French's mustard along with the famous trademarks of 7-Eleven, Blockbuster Video, Microsoft, Best Western, Shoney's, Kohl's, Eveready, Domino's Pizza, Border's, Evian and others. It's intended to make a statement about our advertiser-saturated society, naturally, and does just that. Unfortunately, you'll have to go to iTunes or an on-demand service to see the whole thing. After the Academy Award win Sunday night, the full-length video disappeared from YouTube. Something about intellectual property right. (Here's the trailer instead).

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Brands set for product-placement close-ups in midseason shows

Posted on Tue Jan 26 2010

Glenn Close, the gang from Lost, Jerry Seinfeld, Peter Krause, Simon Cowell, Craig T. Nelson. So many popular stars on midseason TV shows. And side by side with those luminaries? Virgin America, Waste Management Inc., 7-Eleven, Hooters, Churchill Downs and White Castle, all with high-profile product placements they didn't have to pay a dime for. Virgin America stars in Fly Girls, which follows five of the marketer's hot flight attendants in a Gossip-Girl-meets-The-Hills docu-style series on the CW. (The airline's top marketer is a co-executive producer.) Along with the girls' catfights and dating drama, expect to catch a glimpse of the finer features of the Richard Branson-backed airline, like its free wi-fi and celebrity parties. The screen time will be golden for Virgin, which is expanding its operations in the U.S. over the next several years. Undercover Boss (see video above), premiering on CBS after the Super Bowl, will expose a bit of the underbelly of Southern companies like Waste Management, White Castle and the others, but only to right wrongs and celebrate working stiffs. Timely! None of the marketers have creative control over the programming, but they'll probably be happy with their close-ups anyway since it'll be their warts-and-all, not their competitors. And the price sure was right.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

'Sex and the City 2' won't suffer from a lack of product placement

Posted on Mon Jan 4 2010

It's a great holiday multiplex tradition to inundate moviegoers with new trailers for blockbusters to come. This can be a good thing. (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland looks insane!) As for the new Sex and the City 2 trailer, posted here … well, this movie's job apparently is to bombard us with product placement. Recession be damned, those chicks are sporting some serious bling. Well, you didn't expect to see them in J. Crew, did you? Among the brands with face time: Halston, Dior, Chanel, YSL, a pair of Mykita & Bernhard Willhelm sunglasses that reportedly cost more than $500 and a $200,000 necklace from Solange Azagury-Patridge, according to the Madison Avenue Spy blog. Louboutins are everywhere. (Whither Manolos?) It's safe to say Carrie Bradshaw and her merry band of conspicuous consumers are not feeling the pinch these days. They even take a girl's trip to Morocco, complete with ornate, jewel-encrusted headgear! Scoff if you will, but it's exactly that fantasy—along with the "love conquers all" drivel—that keeps fans like me coming back to the franchise. So I say, bring on the sequel (launching May 28) and I'll show up. I'll be the one wearing Old Navy.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Twinkies faring better than Coke, Pepsi in current film cameos

Posted on Mon Oct 5 2009

It was a big weekend for product placement at the movies, with Hostess Twinkies mentioned almost as often in Zombieland as Jesse Eisenberg's rules for avoiding the living dead. (Rule No. 1: Cardio). High-concept comedy The Invention of Lying also takes a stab at advertising in a world where there are no fibs. A Coca-Cola ad features an unenthusiastic pitchman who says: "I'm Bob; I work for Coke, and I'm asking you to not stop buying Coke." The tagline for the soda is, simply, "It's very famous," but no one's pretending it's not "just brown-colored sugar water" that makes you fat. The slogan for Pepsi sums up what we're all thinking anyway: "When they don't have Coke." (Don't look for the brand-backed cross-promotions on that flick.) Sony Pictures' Zombieland, where even a truckload of pink Sno Balls didn't make the snack-cake cut, led the box office this weekend with $25 million. Warner Bros.' The Invention of Lying, from first-time director Ricky Gervais, pulled in a sad $7.3 million. There won't be a sequel. No lie.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley



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