If you have been following this blog (or my life) you probably already know that I watch lots of television. Way too much television. If I wasn't married, I'm pretty sure I'd leave the television on at all times. I find all kinds of excuses to leave the TV on. During the day I convince myself that our dog likes to watch TV, so I leave it on for him sometimes. When I travel, I leave it on when I leave my hotel room and somehow convince myself that by leaving the TV on, it's less likely that someone will break into my room. I know how irrational this is, so you don't have to tell me. I think it's just because I really, really like TV.
There isn't much that I don't like about television, but there is one thing that gets me to turn off the TV (or at least change the channel) - the lost art of product placement and subliminal advertising. To clarify, I'm not against subliminal advertising or in-show product placement - I actually think it's brilliant. I just don't like the fact that advertisers don't really try to hide it anymore. Product placement used to be awesome. You'd end up buying something from the store and not realize why until you saw a re-run of the episode. Damn that Michael J. Fox and his Pepsi products.
Like most things, this new lazy product placement can be blamed on reality television. And like most of the pitfalls of reality television, this can be blamed on Survivor. I think it was the first season of Survivor when Jeff Probst awarded Richard Hatch with a Pontiac Aztek when his torch was the last one lit when advertisers realized that they no longer needed to 'sneak' their products into TV shows. On a side note, I think that all 8 of the Pontiac Azteks sold in the United States can be directly attributed to Survivor.
So Survivor was the first, but it has gotten way way worse in the last decade. One of my favorite shows with the absolute worst product placement is The Biggest Loser. Bob, Jillian, and the competitors hawk everything from Jennie-O Turkey to Extra Gum to Ford Freestyles. Oh, and then make it look like it's a conversation:
Contestant 1: Hey Bob, what are you making?
Bob: Just grilling up some Jenni-O Turkey.
Contestant 2: But Bob, is that healthy?
Bob [I'm not sure what Bob says at this point, I get upset and change the channel]
I think if I end up on a reality show, I'll probably freak out like Jim Carrey on The Truman Show when the other contestants start one of these advertisements. I haven't seen the movie in about a decade, but I seem to remember him going nuts on his pseudo-wife when she started one of these mini-commercials in their kitchen. That's probably how I'd get voted off of whatever reality show I end up on. Either that, or it'll be the fact that I would refuse to use the word 'alliance' during my show.
Some product placement just makes me sad. On Rock of Love II, Brett Michaels did a mini commercial for Dave and Busters during the "Meet the Ex-Boyfriends" episode. I mean, the guy used to be the lead singer of Poison, and now he's telling me where I should go next time I want to play air hockey with the guys. Oh, and then he says he's not sure if one of the girls can handle his Rock'n'Roll lifestyle. Really Brett? Can she not keep up with your potato skins and ski ball lifestyle?
So those are just a couple of examples. There are plenty of others. Please share your (least) favorite product placement as a comment to this post. Whatever show it is, I'm sure I've seen it. Or at least my dog has.