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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: What products would “blend seamlessly” as product placement into which TV shows?

Advertisers are desperate to try anything new in order to get ads in front of eyeballs, and TV networks will do anything in order to continue squeezing money out of those advertisers. (I think I hate most the banner ads that keep popping up along the bottom of my TV screen in the middle of programs.) But one thing they’re all trying is something old, something from the earliest days of TV: single-product sponsorship of a show, with the product integrated into the storyline.

Family Guy is about to try it, according to The Hollywood Reporter blog The Live Feed:

The half-hour “Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show” will air Nov. 8 at 8:30 p.m. and star MacFarlane and co-star Alex Borstein. The special will air commercial free … sort of … instead featuring a creeping invasion of Microsoft Windows 7-branded programming that, the press release assures, will “blend seamlessly with show content.”

“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Windows 7 on such an exciting, highly collaborative marketing campaign featuring the very unique talents of Seth MacFarlane as he overhauls the old Hollywood tradition of the sponsored variety show by marrying Windows 7 messaging with content,” said Jean Rossi, executive vp of sales for Fox.

Yeah, should be seamless, because “Family Guy” is always chock full of jokes about new Microsoft operating systems. Why, do you remember that one time Quagmire couldn’t figure out how to get his air card to work with XP? Oh, oh man, it was hilarious … ahem.

That’s James Hibberd at The Live Feed bringing the snark, and he’s not wrong. It’s easy to imagine product placement blending seamlessly into a show, but this ain’t it.

So let’s show ’em how it’s done, What products would “blend seamlessly” as product placement into which TV shows?

I’m thinking like this:


Dammit, Don, after that meeting, I need a drink.

Hey, Roger, I just got this a bottle of Laphroaig from Gimbel’s — they want us for their new Christmas campaign. Try it: you’ll love it.

Have fun.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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