'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.

What does Conan O'Brien have to do with the film 'Unstoppable'?

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Nov 12 2010


What does Conan O'Brien have in common with the combustible, out-of-control train from the Fox action thriller Unstoppable? Not much, I'd say, but the studio and TBS have linked the two anyway in a commercial that's airing this week on O'Brien's new late-night chat show, Conan. "Go from 190 pounds of talk-show host," the ad says in bold type, with no voiceover or dialogue, "to 1,000,000 tons of steel." Get it? Neither do I. If the spot means to say that both are, well, unstoppable, then I could grasp the idea. O'Brien has risen from the ashes of a failed stint on The Tonight Show, and he's more popular than ever. But (no real spoiler here) the train in the movie, opening Friday, actually is stoppable. (That's what our heroes, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, will spend two tense hours doing.) The growing trend of mingling TV-show content and advertising, so that viewers are less likely to fast-forward through the breaks, is working in some cases. It's even engaging when it's cleverly done, like the recent zombie-themed Toyota Corolla commercial that aired during AMC's The Walking Dead. But anything that can be copied can be copied poorly. Sorry, Coco, I'm all for seeing you plastered across every available piece of TBS media, but stop it with the Unstoppable crossovers.

Toyota kills with zombie Corolla ad on AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 4 2010

If you had a choice, wouldn't you pick a Humvee or a tank as your getaway vehicle in case of a zombie apocalypse? Apparently, a Toyota Corolla will do the trick, too, if you believe a commercial that aired during Sunday night's launch of the spine-chilling AMC series The Walking Dead. The undead-themed spot, set up like a movie scene with a couple watching a zombie attack safely from the multiplex, is the latest to pick up the thread of the show it's airing in. AMC has some experience with this, having done it all season with '60s-style Unilever ads during Mad Men. (Some viewers liked them, some didn't. I found them to be fairly cheeseball.) The cable network, on a roll with its original programming, is obviously able to draw in marketers who want a piece of that high-quality action and are willing to fashion their campaigns to fit the environment. I'm not sure I'm sold on a Corolla as a zombie shield, but the spot was so unexpected, I stopped fast-forwarding through the ad break to watch it. The 90-minute Walking Dead premiere, by the way, pulled in a monster rating with 5.3 million viewers, the highest for any series in AMC's history and better than nearly every non-sports program that aired on Sunday night, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. That's a lot of eyeballs on a contextually relevant Corolla ad. Creepy and clever!

74 real-world brands feel the love during season 4 of 'Mad Men'

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 19 2010


Lucky Strike cigarettes dropped its fictional ad agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but still managed to reap the rewards from its association with Mad Men. According to tracking firm Joyce Julius & Associates, the smokes landed $360,000 worth of (real-world) unpaid media exposure from AMC's hit series. (Never mind that the playboy scion of the ciggies' controlling family is portrayed as a drunken lout, which is less than flattering even though it's make believe.) The 13 episodes in the '60s-set drama's just-ended fourth season contained 74 brand references, including Clearasil, Honda, Ponds, Life cereal and Samsonite, the Joyce Julius study found. Sunday night's finale packed in the American Cancer Society, Dow Chemical, the Salvation Army, Disneyland, Saran Wrap and Corning. Those are all worth money, which will no doubt come as welcome news to marketers who don't have to cough up any green to be featured on the show. But now that the fourth season's finished, where's the solace for the rest of us?

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

By David Kiley on Tue Oct 12 2010


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.

Continue reading "Chevrolet drives into 'Hawaii Five-O,' along with defunct Mercury" »

Smirnoff jumps into reality television with a traveling DJ contest

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 7 2010


Reality TV is hitting the rocks. More precisely, Smirnoff is sponsoring a new show airing on African American entertainment channel Centric, and rebroadcast on BET, called Master of the Mix. The obvious product tie-in with vodka will pit DJ against DJ in cities throughout the world in the quest to crown "The Hottest DJ in the World."
  The show, produced by GTM and Ben Silverman's Electus studio, is hosted by Just Blaze and Kid Capri. The competition kicks off at the DJ's "base camp" for the show, a luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills, and quickly moves to Nevada, where the DJs spin at The People's Challenge, a massive vodka-tasting event for Smirnoff at the Tao nightclub in Las Vegas. From there, the show follows the DJs from city to city—and party to party—including Miami, Los Angeles, New York and London, where contestants will put their skills to the test in a series of challenges.

Continue reading "Smirnoff jumps into reality television with a traveling DJ contest" »

Promo for HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' lands all the right punches

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 5 2010

You might think advertising with a Rocky-like story at the center is completely passé. You'd be wrong in this case. Contraband put together this roughly two-minute short film to promote HBO's Saturday night series Boxing After Dark, and it's a heart-tugging thing to behold. The video, dubbed "I Still Have a Soul," follows a homeless guy as he tries to regain his dignity (and his powerful left hook) with a boxing trainer. It's beautifully shot, touching without being maudlin and wonderfully effective. Let's get ready to rumble!

Is this upcoming Nickelodeon show just one long Skechers ad?

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Sep 15 2010


It was OK when ABC aired a show based on advertising icons, but when Nickelodeon tries to do the same, the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood goes ballistic. Well, actually, it wasn't OK when ABC did it, either. Cavemen, based on the mighty entertaining series of Geico ads, was criminal (and mercifully short lived). But back to Nick, which plans to launch Zevo-3 next month. The CCFC, which monitors the onslaught of marketing to kids, says the show is nothing more than a program-length infomercial for Skechers. Zevo-3's stars, children turned superheroes, were created to hawk the sneaker brand in ads, comic books and other marketing materials. The Children's Television Act and FCC rules would make them off-limits as kids' TV characters, according to entertainment industry blog The Wrap. The CCFC and its outspoken kids' advocate director, Susan Linn, are trying to stop the animated show, saying, "What's next? Programs like Clowning Around with Ronald McDonald? Have It Your Way with the Burger King? Tony the Tiger Toons?" Read more about the protest here, and see why Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show never made it off the ground.

Tourism Australia, Qantas benefit from Oprah's latest brand love

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Sep 14 2010

Oprah Winfrey has always been a good brand shepherd on her wildly popular afternoon chat show. Remember all those Pontiacs she gave away a few years back? Well, on Monday, she threw a little international travel into her shilling repertoire, surprising her audience of 300 fans each with an eight-day vacation to Australia. Collective meltdown ensued. Really, it was Bieber-sized fandemonium. (Check out the video.) Winfrey linked with Tourism Australia and Qantas Airlines to make this happen for the uber-fans she invited to the opening show of her final syndicated season. John Travolta played his part by showing up in his Qantas "ambassador at large" gear (including a replica plane on the set). Apparently he'll be flying the group to Australia himself, or at least that's the promise. The plan is to tour the country in December and film several episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show at the Sydney Opera House, boosting the region's profile with the Oprah faithful and maybe selling some travel packages to folks in the U.S. This isn't the first time Oprah's gone gaga for Australia. Before, it was the Baz Luhrmann movie Australia, and she spent an entire hour with stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman talking about how many Oscars they'd win for the romantic epic. Oh well, maybe this will work out better.

'Mad Men' might just have cured the common hackneyed tagline

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Aug 30 2010


Viewers of last night's episode of Mad Men no doubt cringed when an aspiring young copywriter failed to bowl over Don Draper and Peggy Olson with a portfolio filled with variations on the tagline, "Cure for the common [fill in the blank]." Come to think of it, the slogan does sound pretty familiar. Who else has gone this hackneyed route? Nissan, for one. In 2001, the carmaker rolled out a campaign themed "The cure for the common car." Before that, in 1995, Chrysler hyped its 1995 Sebring as "The cure for the common coupe." The auto industry wasn't the only segment to fall prey. In 1986, Taco Bell dubbed itself "The cure for the common meal." In 2000, the NY Waterway system was "The cure for the common commute." USA Networks also advertised itself as the "Cure for the common show" back in 1997. Though it seems this strain of lazy thinking is endemic to the profession, take heart. After this exposure in Mad Men, we may finally have found a cure for the common "Cure for the common…" ads.



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