Stop the storyline and sell me some product. But take your chances with what comes next.
Slugging our eyeballs and ear lobes, two heavy-handed branded entertainment messages will now subtract one more person from the already dwindling supply of those watching NBC's "Chuck."
According to my professional scientific survey, my wife may be another in a small stream of people looking to back away from the four-year old critical (but not with the overall public) favorite NBC show.
Her change has to do with a specific branded food product being snarfed down by a character -- while being held hostage -- on a recent episode of the spoofy spy dramedy. Watching an episode with her, I heard an audible groan from the other end of the couch when a Subway sandwich was mentioned and shown.
"That's the second time this has happened recently," she said, meaning the second time in as many episodes she witnessed some product placement not to her liking. The first time, main character Chuck was playing around with all the features of a Toyota minivan.
My wife said this interfered with the action of the storyline as well as her "interaction" and interest in the show. I'm guessing that you branded entertainment professionals would call this kind of placement inorganic.
I know what you are going to tell me -- all the research on branded entertainment has shown few, if any, people abandon a show because of product placement.
Good news, Subway executives: My wife is more pissed with the show's producers than with your fine line of chipotle-laced food products. More good news: We do remember Subway's name in all of this, thus you can keep you nice, high "awareness" numbers intact. But we probably have little-to-no "intent" to run out and buy your sandwich.
That may still be enough for you, Subway. You probably spent $300,000 or so for this mention and visual in "Chuck" -- probably more if it was part of a bigger Subway buy with the network. Ex-NBCer Ben Silverman notes that Subway's marketing efforts "saved" Chuck from cancellation earlier in the show's run. So I guess we should thank you -- up to a point.
So what are we left with? One pissed-off woman, her husband looking to appease her anger, and, if you have been counting, five free marketing mentions in this article for "Chuck" and seven for Subway. Also free of charge -- the grousing message and subtle advice. <