How Do You Feel About Brands Invading Your Entertainment?

Post 29 of 109

I don’t know about you, but in the last month or two, I have felt like I have been assaulted multiple times by brands making an appearance in some of my favorite TV shows.  It’s got me thinking (again) about the line between entertainment and advertising…

Product placement








About a month ago, I was watching my favorite guilty pleasure, Royal Pains, and one of the key characters starting talking about her new car.

It was innocent enough since it eventually became a key plot point in the show’s storyline.

Until they started talking about how easy it had been to find the car by using

They even went so far as to show a demo of how the service worked on-screen!

A couple of weeks later, I was watching summer hit, Under the Dome, and Rebecca instructed Big Jim to “take the Prius” since they were experiencing a severe shortage of gas in the town.

This mention, while seemingly innocent, was actually a subliminal message that, should the world ever run out of natural gas, Prius drivers would be safe…

And then on the last few episodes of Boardwalk Empire, anti-hero Nucky Thompson mentions rum brand, Bacardi, by name, as he works to import it to once again increase his fortune.

Now, I usually don’t have a problem with product placement.

We have been experiencing it for literally centuries.

Who doesn’t have a warm spot in their heart for Reese’s Pieces after watching the movie E.T.?

And 007 just wouldn’t be the same without his Aston Martin

But for some reason, these more recent examples seem a little less subtle, pretty much hitting the viewer over the head.

And to be honest, I found it somewhat offensive.

It was almost as if marketers (and to be fair, the writers of the show itself) were insulting my intelligence.

As if I wouldn’t notice that they had placed a big, blaring advertisement in the middle of my TV show!

Now, I certainly understand and appreciate the challenges we marketers are facing in today’s world of ad skipping.

But I would argue that there are more elegant ways to go about getting our message across.

Maybe force-feeding these messages won’t make consumer more amenable to trying our products.

Maybe it will actually deter consumers from trial instead of attracting them.

I could be wrong, but I kind of feel like this is not the best direction for us to be heading in terms of “creative” brand presence.

As always, tell us what you think in the Comments below…

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  • Len Appel

    Well, isn’t the timing of your post apropos to our conversation! I think it just comes down to execution. Content producers love to involve brands (and when brands get involved) because it lends credibility and authenticity to their cause (if not underwriting costs). And, frankly, many viewers enjoy it because of that same relatability (“hey, look, they eat Dunkin Donuts too!”). With anything in marketing… when it’s done well, people respond positively and will turn off when they feel that they’re being shilled to or insulted. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, brands will only become more deeply integrated into all types of content moving forward.

    • Jenifer Kramer

      Absolutely, Len! And thanks for commenting. In your new role, I am counting on you to develop branded integrations that are seamless and on point. 😉

  • Justin Anderson

    Branded placements such as these are effective when they are seamlessly integrated into the plot of the entertainment vehicle (e.g., the Prius example may have made sense), but distract the audience when they are too obtrusive (e.g., the AutoTrader example disconnected the viewer from the show). Such distraction can create a backlash against the brand when the audience feels the placement has diminished their entertainment experience.

    • Jenifer Kramer

      Without question, Justin. Thanks so much for concurring. I am with you 100%! 🙂

  • Al

    I see your point andI saw the same thing and thought that was pretty creative. I wonder what they paid to slide that in there. I wasn’t offended it seems to me with money you could put yourself in any position you want from an advertising standpoint. As for the TV shows definitely somewhat of a sellout. But I guess it’s all about the Benjamins! Excellent article andgreat eyes and ears to catch all that!

    • Jenifer Kramer

      Thanks so much and sorry for the delayed response, Al. I am so glad that you liked the article and found it compelling enough to comment. Yes, I agree that it is disappointing from the show perspective. But good for brands of course though I would think they too would want to be a little more subtle. I personally was a little disgusted by the Auto Trader example in particular. Though, if they are going for awareness, they certainly succeeded! 🙂