Bad Brand Entertainment That Kills A TV Show? We're Waiting For Evidence

When has product placement ever turned a viewer off?

I can think of one probable instance, NBC's "The Restaurant" featuring Rocco DiSpirito, which ran a few years back and got some bad returns from viewers/bloggers. But not enough to say that product placement was why the show failed.

Additionally, for all the talk about the "organic" nature of product placement activities, rarely if ever do TV advertisers, media agencies, product placement agencies, ever talk about underperforming -- or bad -- product placements.

Even rarer, you don't see TV producers blaming the death of their TV shows on product placement.

How organic is the Ford Motor-sponsored little music video each week on "American Idol"?  Does that turn anyone off -- so much that that they refuse to watch "Idol"? 



"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" has Sears Kenmore appliances and Craftsmen-branded tools on display. Who reaches for the remote when an LG washer doesn't appear -- or a Ryobi power drill? Yeah, I know. Let those brands get their own home show.

This is all to say that TV viewers will put up with a lot. You'll really have to piss them off big time. Viewers will adjust to all kinds of product placement on good shows, but won't blame placement when shows are bad.

"Celebrity Apprentice"? In every episode there is major product placement which pulls in multi-million branded integration fees. You can't tell me at least one of these things doesn't work. Who bats 1.000 in television anyway?

Now the U.K. finally wants to allow product placement on commercial television because it'll bring big cash dollars to the TV system. Up until this time they were worried about secret messaging that would penetrate the brains of U.K. viewers.

They aren't worried now. That's because an ex-Endemol executive, (Endemol is the TV producer of "Big Brother" and other reality fodder) Peter Bazalgette, said in a recent editorial, "If it's overdone or tasteless, viewers will switch off."

Oh yeah. When and where has that happen in countries that do allow product placement? Tell me one time.

All this is the same reason you'll never hear from TV marketers when their media plans go wrong. You'll only see some after-the-fact collateral damage: media agencies losing accounts or brand entertainment executives losing their jobs.

Come on; I want to hear from you. Tell me your bad brand entertainment experience where all hell broke loose. We at TV Watch are really good listeners. But first let me sip from my Coke-embossed, inorganic plastic cup.

7 comments about "Bad Brand Entertainment That Kills A TV Show? We're Waiting For Evidence".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Melissa Lowery from Broadview Acres, September 15, 2009 at 2:35 p.m.

    How about when brand placement DOES work? Fans of NBC's Chuck seized on Subway's brand placement and used it as the cornerstone of a successful renewal campaign. So successful that Subway signed on as a major sponsor for the new season. Today's viewers are smart enough to know that television is about making money, and if we want our favorite shows to stay on the air then we need to promote their bottom line. Brand placement, especially when it's organic, is the future.

    Full disclosure: my site - - was the hub of operations for the renewal campaign.

  2. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, September 15, 2009 at 2:39 p.m.

    <<Peter Bazalgette, said in a recent editorial, "If it's overdone or tasteless, viewers will switch off.">>

    Really? In my experience, if it's overdone or (especially) tasteless, it's almost certain to get a certain level of ratings support.

    But you're right -- people won't turn off their sets because of a clumsy and obvious product placement, but they might be a little less likely to tune in the next time if they don't a show bludgeoning them with commercials in between the "real" commercials.

    It's not like we don't have endless viewing options these days.

  3. Andrew Budkofsky from Rolling Stone, September 15, 2009 at 3:08 p.m.

    The shows you mention have enough popularity that people will sit through them. But don't think that viewers on the other end don't cringe when the A.I. singers flaunt around in a Ford and close the song sitting on the hood. When the winners of a Survivor challenge win a candy bar and it's presented front and center on the screen - my wife and I look at each other and roll our eyes. There's more to turning off a viewer than turning off the show.

  4. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, September 15, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.

    @ John Hall

    I look forward to the demise of the :30 spot. It'll save me so much effort holding down the fast-forward button on my TiVo.

    Seriously, what I object to with obvious product placements is that we already have to sit through 15-20 minutes of commercials an hour. Now, I have to set through more? When is enough "enough"?

  5. Lee Bush from Elon University, September 15, 2009 at 3:47 p.m.

    Looking for evidence? You might look at a study on product placement by Pamela Miles in the fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Advertising. Its hows that brand attitudes are negatively affected by prominent and repetitive product placements.

  6. Randall Hoffner from ABC, Inc., September 15, 2009 at 4:17 p.m.

    The U.K. doesn't permit product placement? I have recently watched all the episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey, mostly from the 80s and 90s, and they definitely had several product placements, some repeat customers that showed up with regularity.

  7. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, September 15, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.

    One of the challenges of product placement is that it is rarely organic. If a client pays $50,000 or so to see his product in a series, film or video, he's going to want an element of control over how it is presented. Throw in that nice product close-up. Pan across the hood of the vehicle so there's no mistaking which marque it is. Now what you have is a glorified commercial. At that point, you've not just compromised the integrity of the project (if there was any in the first place), you've also tipped your hand that you are trying to manipulate the viewer. How's that for a two-fer?

Next story loading loading..