A Season's Worth Of Branding In One Easy TV Character Package

Product placement deals in scripted TV shows are fairly commonplace. But each individual brand typically gets just fleeting notices -- perhaps in just one episode in a given season. (Reality TV is something else. Don't get me started).

But how about a brand placement that is in every single episode of a scripted TV series? Overkill, you say?

When that brand is attached to a specific ongoing character, it's a bit different. Take Telemundo's soap opera "Más Sabe el Diablo" ("The Devil Knows Best"), where a down-on-her-luck character, Perla Beltrán, takes a job as recruiter for the United States Census Bureau.

The aim here: to get sometimes shy Hispanic-American homes to comply with the Census reports, especially with the agency's big report it does every decade, next year being 2010.

Would it seem like one big TV commercial, one big infomercial? One executives for the Telemundo deal says the aim is not to make it look like a "Discovery Channel documentary."



But what if this kind of activity made it into a English-language TV series? What about the size of that product placement fee? What if that Kevin James's character in "King of Queens" was really an employee of UPS or Fedex?

How about if in "Ugly Betty," the magazine where everyone worked was really "Vogue" or "Glamour"? What if the "Friends" gang really hung out in a Starbucks, not Central Perk, and interacted with Starbucks employees in many episodes?

TV producers and branded entertainment executives talk about the problem of being inorganic with some brands and situations. The real issue is when no brands exist where something should. That seems inorganic.

"Diablo" and U.S Census Bureau doesn't want to be preachy. Maybe Beltran will turn bad and start taking money under the table.

No doubt she'll have some character flaws, but that's life.

Viewers can deal with it -- and maybe more Hispanic-Americans might consider answering questions from Census workers in the future.

4 comments about "A Season's Worth Of Branding In One Easy TV Character Package ".
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  1. Tim Rank from blueprint 314, September 28, 2009 at 10:59 a.m.

    The use of real brands is one of the reasons <i>Seinfeld </i> worked so well. No, we don't know an eccentric cast of characters (unless you work in a creative shop), but we do know the Yankees, Junior Mints, Snapple and Ziggy (and Entenmann's and the New Yorker and Bosco and J Peterman and...) These non-paid placements created a bridge to the relatable in a unrelatable world.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 28, 2009 at 1:12 p.m.

    1. That cencus thing really is becoming a problem with he man hung naked with the word fed written on his body.

    2. That branding thing...aaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!

  3. Aaron B. from, September 28, 2009 at 4:56 p.m.

    I've wondered for some time if, come next spring, the character "Sarah" of NBC's CHUCK will be employed by a Subway franchise.

  4. Melissa Anderson from Wetpaint, September 29, 2009 at 6:17 a.m.

    I'm curious as to which agencies handles product placement on tv shows the most.

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