Product Placements = eye rolls. But I’ll take it.

February 15, 2010

While catching up on my favorite shows this weekend, and drinking an ice cold Coke Zero, I noticed a healthy amount of in-program product placements. At times I felt like the placement was a little clumsy and forced,  and other times, I wondered if it was paid product placement at all.

An Ad Age article told me product placement was my fault, and I am more than OK with that.

“We say we hate ads,” the article notes. “We say we love ‘American Idol,’ ’24’ or ‘The Closer.’ Yet we ignore the fact that the ads are the main reason we get to watch those shows for a relatively minimal cost.”

In 2006, Apple said they do not pay for product placement. This included the  Christmas party episode of “The Office,” when Michael contributed an iPod as a Secret Santa.

After watching a more recent episode, “Sabres”, I have a feeling things may have changed. A total of 6 products are shown: iPod Classic, iPhone, iBook, MacBook Pro, eMac and iMac.

NBC executive Vince Manze told the Washington Post that producers of “The Office” draw the line when product placement infringes on the authenticity of the characters. “They pride themselves on being real,” he said.

The most recent episode of Modern Family, “My Funky Valentine,” had a product placement for the Toyota Sienna :

“Never has it been more clear that commercials and content are fast becoming one and the same, wholly indistinguishable from each other,” the Post said.

“At some point, ads and shows might blur so much that the notion of a ‘commercial break’ becomes a silly, antiquated thing of the past.”

Last September, the UK followed the US and officially sanctioned product placement.

“This will also provide us with more room for creativity and innovation,” according to Javed Husain, a leading British ethnic advertising specialist. “It is a good chance to better present and integrate the brand into a real context, thus bringing it closer to people. This is for us a chance to induce behavioral change by helping the brand create the desired association with consumers and affinity as a result of being part of the action and interaction with characters.”

I’d rather roll my eyes at these branded experiences than endure (or fast-forwarding through) several commercial breaks to watch my favorite show. What about you? Do you prefer the clear distinction between commercials and programming?