Is it me, or have commercials gotten really long, like 60 minutes long?
You can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a brand name product on a TV show or in a movie. What once was a matter of getting a company to donate free “props” for a production has morphed into a mega-billion-dollar industry. We all know how Tom Cruise saved Ray Bans with “Top Gun” and “Risky Business.” You may have heard about Reese’s Pieces being the second choice for “E.T.” And who can forget the gratuitous product placement (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) in “Wayne’s World?”
I’m looking for a 12-step program for PPPF (Perpetual Product Placement Fatigue). There’s no escape. No longer just an effort to make a TV home look more like your momma’s kitchen, product placements have reached out, like a computer virus, infecting everything within sight and touch.
Main character has a headache? Someone’s bound to ask, “Want an Advil?” Cops no longer make donut runs; they “go to Krispy Kreme.” (I love Krispy Kreme, but seriously…) I never watched a single episode of “Sex and the City,” but I know its bywords were “Manolo” and “Jimmy Choo.”
“Project Runway,” one of my addictions, has no pretensions about their product placement. The words “Elle magazine” and fashion designer/product line “Michael Kors” can be heard as frequently as the “L’Oreal hair salon” and the “Tres Somme makeup room.” And let’s not forget the BlueFly.com accessory wall. (I have to admit that Kia’s product placement – a challenge to make clothes out of materials scavenged from their cars – was inspired.)
“American Idol” literally pours Coke down our throats. It’s so gratuitous that the 1987 movie “Leonard Part 6″ is starting to look tasteful. (Don’t know this film? Go to imdb.com! OOPS! A product mention.) Even the AI contestants are caught up in the game, creating singing commercials for show sponsors. (Save me from another musical car video!) What’s next? Contestants performing in a Coke or Ford T-shirts?
As a PR practitioner, I know the value of having your product seen by millions of TV viewers. As a media consumer, I can only shout, “Stop in the name of love!”