Somebody has to pay for these shows, so I don't have any objections in principle. 30 Rock and The Colbert Report make jokes about their product placement, which really works. I've seen commercials during Eureka that are done by an actor from the show in character. That does trick me into stopping and having a look, but I don't really care about what Fargo has to say about deodorant. Other people's reactions may vary.
TLC seemed to find a good balance for a while there. A few weeks ago, the Duggar women on 18 Kids and Counting cleaned the floors with Swiffer mops. It was blatant product placement, but didn't last long and Mamma Duggar just said a few words about how they have to mop after every meal because there's so many people in the house and Swiffer makes it easier. (Really, the whole show is about living with 20 people in the house, so it fit in nicely.)
[begin digression] And then they threw out 4 of the disposable mop pads because although the Duggars and their ilk are having lots of babies to outnumber the unbelievers in the coming culture war, they don't care much about protecting the environment for their hundreds of great-grandchildren. Yes, 4 Swiffers, 3 times a day isn't much, but they also use paper plates for seemingly all of their meals. People, you know you're feeding 20 people! Just get some real plates at the thrift store, some washable plastic dishes for the little kids and stick them in one of your restaurant sized dishwashers. Yes, paper plates are biodegradable, but they don't even compost or garden!
Yes, I watch that show just to hate them. Other people get fired up by political news networks, I mock the Duggars for not growing some lettuce out back behind the house. It works for me. [end digression]
And this week on Jon & Kate Plus 8, which I did watch before the train wreck**, the two older girls helped Mommy load the dishwasher. The box of Cascade tablets was on the counter and we saw one of the girls actually put the tablet in place, which doesn't exactly make for riveting TV. But Kate talked about how the girls have been helping so much, especially with the dishes since the divorce because they see that there's too much work for just one parent to do on their own. So it was well incorporated.
But on last night's 18 Kids and Counting, they spent 1/3 to 1/2 of the show at Weight Watchers. Now, it was funny to see Jim Bob eating a candy bar behind the group leader's back as she was interviewed about his chances of weight loss success. (That Jim Bob sure is a card, I'll tell you what.) But they showed Jim Bob at the sign in table, being told about the different payment options. And then Mamma Dugger re-explained to him the payments and how if you maintain your goal weight for 6 weeks, you become a Lifetime Member.***
This was most of the show. It would've been better to have an old fashioned Jack Benny taking a moment to extoll the praises of Alpo situation than this extended torture. Plus, the meeting leader actually said, "I guarantee" to Jim Bob when he asked if following the program will make him lose weight. Officially, WW makes no guarantees of any results, so even as a product placement/commercial, it failed. Unless it was deliberate because although a company can be sued over claims made in commercials, the laws are probably much fuzzier when it comes to product placement/segments in which the Duggars just spontaneously discuss a product, in which case it's corporate evil.
I really hope they get enough negative feedback that they don't pull a stunt like that again. specially since they kept breaking away from footage of one of the littlest Duggars running around the house being adorable.
How do you feel about product placement? Any favorite instances of the art form that I've missed?
*I don't zoom through them so quickly that I don't know what the commercials are for and if I see something eye catching, I'll watch it. But I don't have a car and am not looking to buy one. I have no interest in diet products and will never be convinced that I need to clean my kitchen with bleach wipes, or whatever toxic nonsense that'll just take up more space in the landfill that they're pushing these days. And don't even get me started on the antibacterial brainwashing that could kill people by creating superbugs. (OK, I've started--even if you don't care about the superbugs, rubbing antibacterial goo on your hands kills only 99% of the bacteria. The biggest, baddest 1% is still alive and it's STILL ON YOU. Booga, booga.) So commercials are wasted on me and I hope they're wasted on you too.
**And don't bother taking Jon's side around here. I'm a shrew like Kate and if I had 8 kids, I'd be an even bigger shrew than she is. My husband tells me when I'm being a jerk instead of stewing and turning into a big, hypocritical douchebag. I actually think this is an important issue, because women, especially mothers, are expected to be self-sacrificing angels, no matter how much stress and work is on their plate. And this, I believe, is sexist bullshit and needs to stop.
***Seriously, WW? You declare lifelong success after just 6 weeks of maintenance. I call bullshit. (For more on this subject, go check out Shapely Prose.)