Life imitates art (OR Someday we’ll all wear billboards)

June 3, 2008

So, after a few days of technical difficulties and a weekend full of ultimate, I’m catching up on my regular podcasts, including Marketplace, which ran this story on Friday:

Nobody who knows [Sex and the City] … is going to be surprised to see the stars carrying brand-name handbags and gushing about brand-name shoes — that’s half of what the show was all about — but working products into plot lines comes with challenge: How to do it without turning off the audience — and the regulators.


The Writers Guild of America wants the FCC to consider requiring some form of disclosure. The Commission is looking at various options. One idea? Each time a product pops up in a script, text would appear on the screen telling viewers they’re watching a paid placement.

Robert Thompson: That would make the irritation that some people already have over this stuff tenfold.

Robert Thompson teaches television and popular culture at Syracuse University.


Frank Zazza [who helped broker one of the most famous product placements of all time: the starring role of Reese’s Pieces in the movie “ET”] sees good product integration as a welcome alternative to the clutter of spot advertising. Wouldn’t you put up with a few more subliminal messages if you never had to see another car commercial?

I just couldn’t help but think that someday, TV will be like The Truman Show…   or worse, “shows” will just become 30 or 60 minute advertisements.