A cease and desist order

Product placement is the shameful secret of the marketing world.  More important, it’s a stain upon popular culture. 

I have railed against it in these pages, but really who cares. 

So I was very pleased to hear Advertising Age, in the person of Larry Dobrow, take umbrage. 

Thanks to lead-footed marketers who believe that product integration is their secret weapon in the jihad against time-shifting, I’ve become inured to it.

I no longer think there’s a way to do production integration effectively, try as every piece of programming on Bravo and the Extreme Remorseless Unrepentant Home Makeover-type shows may. I’m not so sure it doesn’t do more harm than good.

Well said, Mr. Dobrow.  Let us put this idiot idea out of its misery.


Dobrow, Larry.  2009.  Is it time to put an end of brand integration.  Advertising Age: Madison and Vine.  May 21, 2009.  here.

7 thoughts on “A cease and desist order

  1. Scott Ellington

    Don Draper’s reputation as a go-to visionary was so much nominal smoke&mirrors for me until the moment in which he pitched the Kodak Carousel (of Dreams). Bronson’s Sportster and Stiles’ Corvette(s) weren’t just integrated into their respective series, they were absolutely necessary to the stories that were told. The substitution of a Honda 50 or a Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant, even a ’40 Ford would have resulted in different tales. I don’t know that Movin’ On really had to have a Peterbilt, but there really is an American lust for the open road that’s definitive and very picky.

    Studio 60 confronted the problem of product integration explictly and resolved it in a way that radiated integrity, artistically. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of sensibility you and Mr. Dobrow are talking about. I think it isn’t an idiot idea, I think it’s the logical extension of 60 years of broadcast television, and that in those 60 years perps have very rarely integrated product in a way that elevates content.

  2. dl


    I hate to say it but you are showing your age and your lack of understanding of the production process. Product integration is in the real world. Product integration is inherently in ALL programming. The “evil” is when you say things like “remove product placement”…so then everyone will be naked and in white boxes acting out performances with limited vocabulary.

    the idea of removing product integration is …I have to say for the first time about you …kind of ignorant (in the real sense of the term) and ill informed.

    The danger is when the story creator does not get to say where it is comfortable…and fitting in the story.

    Not trying to be a jerk here…but you would have to understand production to understand that.

  3. dl

    …and just so you know product integration and product placement let’s independent storytellers have control over the advertising that is associated with their stories…otherwise they don’t …oy. You really need to think about what you are arguing here. It is the only way to keep storytelling democratic and productive. Even Shakespeare used props…and markets.

  4. Bryan

    Gossip Girl has been especially egregious with hawking Vitamin Water. NBC’s Chuck was saved by slashing its budget and reducing its episode order to 13. And by cutting a deal with Subway. Rumor is, a character on the show may become a Subway employee.

  5. Steve Portigal

    I was thinking about product placement in the latest Star Trek movie. A child Kirk is driving a vintage (even in the future) sports car, and the phone rings. It’s a Nokia, with a futuristic version of its sonic identity and with a honkin’ huge logo
    http://www.engadget.com/2009/05/10/nokia-cheesiness-featured-in-new-star-trek-movie/ has a bit more

    The movie is well written, acted, and plotted, but I think starts to bow under the weight of meta-content (i.e., Star Trek is a 40 year old franchise with a lot of meaning) and the clues and acknowledgments of the viewer’s world (if only I could work “diegesis” in here somewhere) were a mix of authentic and distracting. The green blood. The green chick. Pike’s wheelchair. Nice that you know and we know you know, but also a bit much. It’s the context for filmmaking that’s been established, especially with franchises and especially with prequels. But I just felt a 2009-weariness from it. Kirk’s Nokia was just another example of our world hitting on their world.

  6. Scott Ellington

    “I have railed against it in these pages…”

    I’ve looked in what seemed like likely places hereabouts without finding a hint of rant/railing about product placement/integration nor insidious commercial branding of content.

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