Product placement in TV shows isn’t anything new. In the old days, talk show biggies like Johnny Carson did commercials live for products like Alpo Dog food. Then for a while ads were seen mostly during commercial breaks and rarely was a product shown on camera during a show When one was, the label was replaced with a fake one using a made-up or generic name. When reality shows hit the market, the labels of any commercial product removed or covered up in similar fashion, but it wasn’t long before they realized they could make money by selling that space.
Ed McMahon & Johnny Carson Pitching Alpo on the Tonight Show
That resulted in everyday products like Coke and Pepsi being seen in scenes of our favorite shows. The advertisers hoped we’d see our favorite character enjoying a Coke and therefore we’d find it cool and drink Coke as well. When it first started happening, the shows were called out on it, but never loud enough to put a stop to it. “American Idol” probably was the most obvious about who their sponsor is and was unabashedly open about sharing the Coke logo on just about every piece of their set. But at least those placements weren’t too intrusive, most of the time. Usually a box of cereal was placed on the shelf ala-Jerry Seinfeld, but rarely did a character stop to do a commercial cameo where he appears to be channeling the pitchmen of Johnny Carson’s time.
That is until now. Here are several videos from products being interjected (BADLY) into storylines on a popular soap opera. They’re downright uncomfortable to watch and I detect just the slightest hint of a smirk on several of the actor’s faces. They seem to be as embarrassed to be doing these blatant commercials in the middle of their dialogue as we are watching them.
I have to wonder how long this new advertising tact will last. How long will it be before products placements like this are added to our favorite prime time dramas? Can you imaging the lead character, about to reveal who the murderer is, but first, he turns to the camera, holds up a box of color safe bleach, and steps into a pitch about how it whitened his whites and got the dead hookers blood out of his work slacks? Think it can’t happen? Then you didn’t watch the videos below.
Days of Our Lives – Chex Mix
Days of Our Lives – Wanchai Ferry Chinese Meals for Two
So, what do you think? Do intrusive product placements like these have a future?