When can TV shows and other general entertainment depict fictional storylines following difficult public news events like shootings? Everyone has a different timeline.
Fox's "Glee" took some heat last week for an episode featuring shots fired in a school and kids running for cover in bathrooms and other places. Characters revealed deeply emotional and, of course, frightened reactions. No one died and no graphic images were screened.
But some believe this episode ran "too soon" after the real-life events in Newtown, Conn. last December. Others had more moderate concerns, believing the "Glee" episode needed to be watched with "caution."
All this didn't seem to dissuade advertisers from participating. Brands including Capital One, Tropicana, Ford fusion, the Facebook home app on ATT, Doritos, Nissan, Friskies, Crystal Light and Target bought in.
If you’re unfamiliar with major network ad buying and planning, advertisers do pre-screen episodes so they know beforehand the particular story lines and content of the shows they are buying.
How does one determine the timing? Perhaps our ability to absorb the impact of big news stories can get digested faster -- surely not forgotten.
That said, the "Glee" storyline didn't follow the events of Newtown. But it did focus on what happens in schools when guns are involved -- something that has occurred in many schools around the country. All this was certainly not a good reminder for any parents or friends involved in any school shooting.
While the duration between real-life events and fictional accounts gets closer, it is also fair to assume that, versus years ago, these kinds of real-life to TV entertainment fodder get far less viewings. That said, social media spin -- including people who haven't seen the episode --- is now a factor. Researcher Trendrr says 210,700 messages concerning the "Glee" episode were sent on Twitter, Facebook, Viggle, and GetGlue.
While potential gun legislation is a hot topic among news channels, "Glee" posted some 6.7 million viewers on Thursday night -- not even close to the highest viewed show of the night. That went to Fox's "American Idol" at 13.2 million viewers. Was "Glee" then profiting from this news cycle? Doesn't seem that way.
What does this say? That rightly or wrongly, fictional entertainment content continues to be fed quickly by news events. Then, among a growing number of entertainment choices, viewers make choices; and marketers make clearer decisions on recognizing their value.