Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bad product placement

The Lonelygirl15 product placement witnessed a huge response from all corners. One such response posted goes...

Thanks, again, to the MIT Advertising Lab I got this tip about our good friend Lonelgirl15. Now, I was never a Lonelygirl fan, even when people thought it was real it just wasn’t my style. But now that they’re totally and obviously fictionalized, brands might as well start placing products into the show, right? Wrong.

I have nothing against product placement, it’s just that to me it’s the lazy way out. Product integration, branded entertainment, I’m down with those. But when someone is talking about how they have issues with trust and then fawns over Ice Breakers Sours Gum?!! Give me a break. I mean, wow, I don’t have to even argue how poorly this was done, you can just listen to the cut from dirty to clean audio when they started talking about the product. If you need further proof you can look at some sweet screencaps below, and use them and learn how truly uncreative webshow placements can apparently be.

It’s sad to see what could have been a smart move be done with such little flair.

-Jason Pickar

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Has hidden advertising gone too far?

HOLLYWOOD - TV editor Scott Miller says he has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to bend plotlines to suit sponsors. In Game Show Network's "American Dream Derby," he had contestants swill Diet Dr Pepper during the show's weekly "fallout moments," when the teams quietly discussed strategy. On MTV's "Tough Enough 3," pro-wrestling contestants were taken to a local mall to visit Foot Locker, Coffee Bean, and Jamba Juice."I remember asking the producers, 'Do we really have to show this?
There is other more interesting stuff that is important to the story line,' " recalls Mr. Miller, a 31-year-old who has been working in Hollywood for five years. "Just do it," they said. "We have to."Miller and his fellow members of the Writers Guild of America as well as the Screen Actors Guild say such pressures to place commercial products in TV shows and films have skyrocketed in recent years. They are calling for a code of conduct to govern the practice and say they will appeal to the Federal Communications Commission if production studios and networks don't seriously consider their proposal.
The two unions also want a percentage of the additional revenue that this advertising generates as well as healthcare and pension benefits."Viewers don't want to be sold something when they've tuned in to be entertained and informed, and writers don't want to have to become shills to an advertisement-driven media," says WGA West President Patric M. Verrone. Saying the increased weaving of paid-for product advertisements into TV and film "raises serious ethical questions" Mr. Verrone adds, "The public has a right to be informed that they are viewing de facto subliminal advertising, and creative artists have a right to exercise their creative voices when required to participate in such advertising."This week the WGA and the SGA released a report showing revenues from advertising within TV shows and movies exceeded $1 billion in the past year. The report described that product use had increased in films by 44 percent and in television programming by 84 percent in that period. It singled out the NBC primetime hit show, "The Apprentice" for its use of advertising. In the program's third season, Burger King, Dove Body Wash, Sony PlayStation, Verizon Wireless, and Visa paid more than $2 million per episode to have their products incorporated into plotlines."High-tech tools have pushed out the commercials, and the commercials are pushing back," says Matthew Felling, media director at the Center for Media and Public Affairs based in Washington. He notes that several high-tech devices - DVDs, TiVo, VCRs, and webcasts - now allow viewers to bypass or delete the string of ads on TV. "TV is having to create alternative revenue models. That's the price we pay for paying no price," he says.
To better handle how the entertainment industry engages in advertising, WGA and SAG have proposed a code of conduct with four main guidelines. It would require: a full, clear disclosure when viewers see commercial products or hear them mentioned in the program; a strict limit on integrating products into children's programming; a voice for storytellers, actors and directors "arrived at through collective bargaining" about how a product or brand is incorporated into the content; and an adherence to these regulations by cable TV, where "some of the most egregious abuse" of this integration happens, they say.Those in the advertising industry respond citing their own pressure to regain audiences they have lost as fewer people watch commercials. They say that it is the networks that have suggested the broader product integrations because of their fears of declining advertising revenue.These complaints are economically driven on both sides, says Jeff Greenfield, publisher of Branded Entertainment Monthly.
In the SAG report, Mr. Greenfield notes that SAG President Alan Rosenberg objected that the growing product-placement practice "too often takes place without any compensation to the very performers that are expected to push those products." Adds Greenfield, "This is a shakedown by the writers who want a piece of the pie."But media analysts say the report and ensuing debate are more evidence of a high-stakes, changing media environment, as cable and satellite TV have eroded the conventional free-TV model.In recent weeks, new partnerships have formed, making network content without commercials available for purchase via the Internet and satellite.
"This is another step in the breakdown of the free-TV model," says Mr. Felling, who says the industry is at a critical juncture as the rules change for the writers, the networks and the public. "Is it worth putting up with this advertising creep to keep your TV free," he says, "or do you want to switch over to something that costs you money?"

Paying for product placement? Suker

Paying millions for product placement? Massive sucker.
Don't take my word for it. Jeff Greenfield, executive vice president of entertainment marketing firm 1st Approach, The Hollywood Reporter that advertisers who pay $3 million to $5 million for product placement/integration deals are "massive suckers." Of course, Greenfield was referring to a couple of shows in particular--you know, the ones with "The Apprentice" title attached to them. Of course, those "Apprentice" product placement advertisers --Sony Pictures Entertainment, Burger King, Mattel, and others--might tell you differently.
They might say that, in fact, those million dollar arrangements, which almost equate to hour-long infomercials, were effective in getting out name recognition or ringing up sales of product. Greenfield went on to say that "90 percent of the brands you see in shows are there for free... A lot of brands get in for free not because they're cool but because they happen to be there." Being there. Does "The West Wing" need some Johnny Walker scotch? You need to be a quick pourer. Could "King of Queens" use some Pop-Tarts on the kitchen set? Only if the cookie crumbles.
The biggest success story for unpaid product placement is with Apple Computers. As has been known for a long time, Apple has been the quickest in overnight delivery of laptops to almost any and all entertainment projects for two decades. As a result, Apple appears to be dominating the PC market in the fictional lives of TV shows and movies. Other executives think just the brand names of Apple, iPod, and Aston Martin alone will get you in the door. Perhaps you don't even need that.
Norm Marshall & Associates said it worked more than 10,000 product placements on TV shows and movies last year--all free. So where is the money in product placement? It's either in the hands of Mark Burnett or with long-time product placement agencies like Norm Marshall. It certainly isn't with the networks or movie companies. Market researcher PQ Media reported paid product placements were $1 billion in 2004, about a third of overall branded integration.
That means 70 percent of all deals--for the moment--are sucker-free.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lonelygirl 15 Breaks Ice with Hershey’s

Lonelygirl15, the pseudo-video diary that became a YouTube phenomenon last year, has signed its first major product placement deal with Hershey’s for its Icebreakers Sours Gum brand.

In a video posted on March 20 on the official Lonelygirl site,, the show’s main character Bree is seen offering her friends a piece of Icebreaker’s gum, and a closeup of the product is shown. The sponsored episode of scripted teen drama is slated to eventually be featured on YouTube and other video-sharing sites in the near future, said officials.

This level of product integration marks one of the more sophisticated examples of branded entertainment to emerge from the rapidly-evolving world of amateur-created online video. The deal was initiated by the Dallas, Texas-based agency TracyLocke. Ad sales were handled directly by the agents from Creative Artists Agency who represent the Lonelygirl creators. "It’s empowering for us to have major international brand like Hershey’s treat us like they would any other major entertainment property," says Greg Goodfried, Lonelygirl15co-creator. "Deals like this are good for the community – they help us pay our operating expenses, which has been an ongoing struggle."