Brandtique: 'Trust Me,' Bertolli

Just when DirecTV has been trying to build interest in its NCAA tournament package, along came the President. And the satellite operator hardly needs a bailout.



While making his March Madness picks on ESPN this week, President Obama was asked if he would be able to catch any of the tournament action while globetrotting.

He'll do what he can, he said.

Would the issue be a lack of time--having to attend to AIG and such? Or not having access while floating over the Atlantic?

Definitely not the latter.

"Air Force One does have DirecTV," he said rather proudly.

Six words. Slam dunk.

If DirecTV doesn't have an Obama 2012 PAC, it may be filing papers to form one. (Dish Network's Charlie Ergen must be a Republican.)

For a communications provider, it's hard to beat that endorsement. Plain and simple: The aircraft with the world's most advanced communications equipment is using its system for something involving defense. To be sure, the full-court-press variety, but still.



Over the years, DirecTV has paid a pretty penny for brand integrations, including weaving a plug for its NFL offering into the dialogue on USA's "Burn Notice."

But Obama trumps the drama. As in life, the best things in branded entertainment are, of course, free.

That ESPN viewers now know that NCAA games will be available on Air Force One en route to the NATO Summit only serves to illuminate just how many dollars appear to be misspent in pursuit of effective product placements.

An example came earlier this month on TNT's "Trust Me," a drama about two pals and partners at a Chicago ad agency, Rothman Greene & Mohr. Several brands have linked with the show, which by dint of its very subject matter offers ample opportunities for integrations.

In the recent episode, Unilever attempted to grab viewers' attention by having the fictional Rothman Greene develop a radio campaign for its Bertolli Oven Bake Meals line (one of the top product placements of the week, according to measurement firm iTVX). But what the agency came up with isn't likely to send anyone rushing out for the Meat Lasagna Rustica.

McCann-Erickson, which has worked on Bertolli since 2003, may someday have a challenger, but Rothman won't be in the review.

The Bertolli scene starts out with a clever quip. Creative director Mason McGuire (Eric McCormack) asks a colleague how the campaign is coming.

"A little al dente," he says.

But then it unravels faster than greasy spaghetti.

McGuire enters an office to find partner Conner (Tom Cavanagh) cooking something up: a spot in the voice of an Italian chef who is frustrated that a couple have stopped coming to his trattoria in favor of staying home and dining on Bertolli's lasagna.

Conner then reads it aloud as he envisions it on air. But his rendition brings a discomfiting caricature.

"Why they no love me ...," the chef says, "you no go out, you stay at home, your lasagna is too good. Why it not take a five hours like mine?"

The spot ends with a trite tagline, "Bertolli Oven Bake Meals, Making Chefs Mad and Couples Happy."

Unilever would have been better off sending a care package to the White House and taking its chances.





The Celebrity Apprentice


Bertolli Oven Baked Meals

Trust Me



Extreme Makeover



Burn Notice



Saving Grace



Breaking  Bad



Click here to view these placements. Data and analysis provided by iTVX.
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