New TV Shows: Give Me The Drama Of Safeway

Now we have a TV show about America's favorite and celebrated retailer, Macy's, in a new show from the cable network WE: Women's Entertainment, called "Unwrapping Macy's."

WE will explore, for example, the drama of employees during the fashion season. Macy's executives say that unlike other reality shows, this one will be a positive affair. No back-biting executives or floor staff need apply.

Why stop with Macy's? What about "Unwrapping Target"--following the drama of what motor oil to stock as the new auto season gets underway. How about "Unwrapping Ralph's," as employees ponder whether yellow peaches or tangelos should be the featured fruit.

A&E recently did a series, "Airline," about Southwest Airlines. At this rate, TV producers could just run through thousands of companies to find the right formula.

At first we were treated to individual 30-minute or 60-minute episodes--you could almost call them infomercials--that focused on companies like Levi Strauss, Burger King, or Sony Pictures, in "The Apprentice."



That was just the beginning. One media executive said that despite "Apprentice"'s falling ratings, marketing executives were supposedly tripping over themselves, ready to pony up even more than the $3 million to $4 million an episode they had been shelling out for that reality show.

Why? Because these branded entertainment moves heightens awareness, and can sell product--but maybe not so much in the ratings department.

I'm for good entertainment. If it's in a Macy's store, focused on a Calvin Klein shirt rack, so be it. But the producers will need to offer up an honest look at the store and its employees--the good, the bad, the chintz--to be successful.

That should be the first priority. Producers always say, it has to be a good show or no one will watch it--no matter how many millions were secured in branded entertainment. Only afterwards, while window-shopping on a lazy Sunday afternoon, might we pop into a Macy's and buy some Donna Karan.

It's the ring of ratings, not cash registers, that's needed here.

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