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.