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Guest poster Owl Meat has come up with one of those topics I wish I had thought of first. I should ask all of you to post every example of a food product placement on a TV show you notice in the next week. I wonder how many we'd come up with? The one that drives me crazy, although it's not a food, is that everybody on TV uses Macs, not PCs. Now I'm a Mac person, but I know what they are good for and what they aren't. And my guess is that it would be hard to find a company other than Apple (food reference) that used nothing but Macbooks. But I digress. Here's guest poster Owlie. EL
Product placement is when a company pays to have their product featured in a television show or film usually as a prop or part of the background. Ever wonder why the President and his cabinet are drinking Diet Mr. Pibb on 24? The idea is that if Jack Bauer drinks Diet Pibb then maybe you can stay up for a day fighting implausible terrorists and your cell phone battery will never need to be charged. ...
Product placement is also obvious when the name and logo of the product is always clearly readable in the foreground of a shot. It's not a big deal, but it does break the dramatic moment.
In some ways it's better than when a character walks into a bar and asks for "a beer" and gets "a beer" with no other discussion. Ever see a character on a television show pull a beer out of the fridge and it just says "BEER" on the label?
I think they are getting better now with Photoshop, creating plausible-looking beer cans or bottles that look like Budweiser without actually using the name or exact logo. Brand-name food and drinks are a regular part of most American's daily life, so these bad mockups break the dramatic moment.
30 Rock seems to walk a post-modern line by having product placement in the show and in the show within the show. When they do it they usually make fun of the corporate goons who are forcing them to do so. Confused yet? They seem to feature GE microwaves a lot, including a tiny one that you can use in the shower. With 30 Rock it's hard to tell the product placement from product placement parody and sometimes they seem to function as both. In the 30 Rock world GE owns NBC but GE's parent company is the fictional Sheinhardt Wig Company whose motto is "Not Poisoning Rivers Since 1997."
30 Rock also has a running gag with fake product Sabor de Soledad (The Taste of Loneliness), a Mexican Cheetos knockoff that can cause false positive pregnancy tests because of testosterone in the ingredients.
Do we care if Isabella Rossellini's character's fondness for Arby's Big Beef and Cheddar is real or product placement? Who cares, the image is hilarious.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)