Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Product Placement

I know that reality shows aren't cheap. There are competitions, guest stars, lodging, food, bonus prizes, and hosts to be paid for. Not to mention $250,000 dollars has to come from somewhere right? But, if a large television network has multiple shows giving out that much money (or more) per season, you'd think that they would have enough money to hire better advertising specialists.

Tuesday night is Biggest Loser night. Always. Two hours of watching morbidly obese people getting their butts kicked. It makes me feel better about my exercise habits. While I love the show, it is THE single worst show at product placement that has ever been shown on television. It doesn't even attempt subtlety. The most frequent product is Subway by far.

The contestants will take a hike down to the nearest town. By the end of their strenuous adventure they will be starving and exhausted. As they stumble into town one of the trainers (usually it's Bob) will say, "Hey guys look at this! There's a Subway right down the block!" The next few minutes of the show will contain the name Subway at least 3 dozen times. This is a small portion of the conversation that goes on at Subway:

Bob: "Hey guys we're so lucky we found a Subway. At Subway you can get a delicious, heart healthy, filling, and did I mention delicious Subway sandwich. They even have breakfast at Subway. Subway's breakfast egg-white sandwiches are the perfect start to your day. Don't you love Subway?"
Contestant 1: "Bob, I am so glad you brought us to Subway. My Subway fresh fit sandwich is so great! I'm so glad that Subway offers healthy, delicious, affordable food!"
Contestant 2: Hey Contestant One! It looks like you have the Subway fresh fit black forest ham sandwich. It looks almost as good as my Subway breakfast egg white on an english muffin. Ha ha ha.
(If there's playful (scripted) banter in the conversation of course it looks more natural right?)
Bob: Alright guys, enough talk, we can't stay at Subway forever! Finish your Subway sandwich and then you guys get to run ten miles back to the ranch. I've already spoiled you too much with all this Subway.

By the end you are definitely craving Subway, which obviously is the point, and you feel ridiculous for even letting the thought cross your mind.

This scenario is played out with at least three other products throughout the episode. Yoplait yogurt, Subway, Ziploc, Extra gum, Brita filters, Biggest Loser protein powder and Luna bars are the products featured most frequently although there are definitely more. Not to mention, every commercial break will advertise for the same things again.

I really am OK with product placement to an extent. It is smart advertising to see a product in a real setting, but does it really have to be so blatant? Can't the producers work things in a little more naturally?