Unless you are The Biggest Loser.
NBC’s hit reality show The Biggest Loser does more than entertain America while contestants sweat away pounds. The show is a model for appropriate product placement that brings together brands like Subway, Ziploc, Extra Chewing Gum, and Rochester’s own Birds Eye. In an era where consumers fast forward traditional broadcast commercials, product placement is on the rise. In The Biggest Loser’s case, it’s hard to justify skipping the segments where Jillian talks about how chewing Extra gum craves hunger. (And yes, each segment is either :30, :60, or :90 seconds long). Because it’s appropriate content that is rooted in helping those on the show and on the couch. I even admire the media directors follow through. Lining up a broadcast spot in the next commercial break after the product placement takes place on the show. Although, I can’t say I watch them. I, like America, tend to fast forward.
Unsuccessful attempts were the new Blackberry on Law & Order, or Diet Dr. Pepper on The New 90210 (I just wasn’t buying the perfectly positioned cans in the cooler. Sorry). The dialogue was forced and the actors seemed uncomfortable with the sell.
So when is product placement appropriate? The show must fit your brand, and the content you provide to the consumer must be relevant. Otherwise your brand is an unwelcome participant during a time when America wants to get away.
And then guess who turns out to be the biggest loser.
(Originally poster on the RAF Blog on June 9, 2009)