Product Placement Rears It’s Ugly Head on “Being Erica”

"Being Erica's" Erin Karpluk

Let’s face it.  TV shows exist to advertise products.  The way they advertise may be changing as DVRs and the internet change the way people watch TV, but it’s still the main source of funding for networks.  Some advertisers have attempted to go back to the single-sponsor programming of the past, but more of them have started blatantly inserting their products into a show’s content.

Last night’s episode of Being Erica (SoapNet, Wednesdays at 11pm) fell victim to a drive-by product placement attack.  Erica was talking on the phone with her new business partner/old boss Julianne and their exchange went something like this (I am paraphrasing):

Erica: What are you doing?

Julianne: I’m on my way to pick up the new car that I bought before I got laid off.  It’s a FORD FIESTA and it comes in magenta.  Isn’t that neat?

Erica: I heard that FORD FIESTA’s are awesome!

Then a couple of scenes later, Erica and Julianne were in her magenta FORD FIESTA and it turns out, it’s a really cute car and the magenta is, in fact, really neat.  But I was already so annoyed that they put the product placement in the dialogue that I was turned off to the product they were advertising.

I don’t mind subtle product placement.  Go ahead, have Julianne have a brand new car and feature it’s name prominently – IN THE BACKGROUND.  Just don’t insert infomercial-like dialogue into the show.  It takes away the creative integrity and makes the producers look desperate.  One instance of subtle product placement that worked well, at least for me, was on Veronica Mars.  Logan (the bad boy) drove a bright yellow Nissan Xterra and he made that truck look so cool.  Because the color made the truck stand out and because I loved the character, I actually looked into what kind of car it was and considered buying one (only for a split second.  I’m not really a truck girl).  But the product placement worked in reverse too.  Whenever I saw a bright yellow Xterra on the street, it made me think of Veronica Mars (which didn’t really need any more of my good will, I loved it so much) so the product placement wasn’t just advertising the truck, it became an advertisement for the show as well.  I don’t think people really mind the close-up on the car’s make and model.  It’s when the characters start extolling its virtues in conversation that it becomes obnoxious.

This post was not brought to you by any advertisers.

The Best Things On TV This Week

Underneath that sheet is the exploded head of the Gravedigger.

These are the things that made me go “Wow!”

- The exploding Gravedigger head on Bones.  That in combination with the gross partially melted body in the bathtub made this last episode particularly stomach-churning.

- Damon’s episode ending confession on The Vampire Diaries.  Man, Ian Somerhalder really brought it this week.  His tender treatment of Rose, fierce protection of Elena and final breakdown in front of the pretty motorist were great insights into who Damon is now as well as all of the resentment and pain he has been holding in since he was turned.

- The Bachelor‘s Michelle got a well-deserved black eye!  I know it’s mean to wish her ill, but the girl was totally asking for it.  I just wish that the cause had been caught on tape.

- Amy Poehler’s portrayal of Leslie Knope, all hopped up on flu medication, thinking that the floor and ceiling had swapped places on Parks and Recreation.

- The last five minutes of Southland, which was shocking, quiet, and completely heartbreaking.  RIP Det. Nate Moretta.

- The cashmere “Blood Rat” ensembles that Sean brought back from his impromptu trip to Las Vegas with Matt LeBlanc on Episodes.

- The return of Being Erica on SoapNet brought me so much joy.  That show is the kind of romantic comfort food that I love while also being extremely relatable (despite the fact that it is about a woman who goes to a therapist who helps her through time travel).  If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend this Canadian series, especially before ABC re-tools it for an American audience.

- American Idol auditioner Lauren Alaina’s little duet with Steven Tyler at the end of the Nashville auditions was just kind of cool.

-To my fellow Portlandia lovers, I have one thing to say: CACAO!

Holiday Reruns

Ovation's Battle of the Nutcrackers Viewer's Choice: The Royal Ballet

I have been at my parent’s house for the past week celebrating the holidays and really haven’t spent all that much time in front of the TV, thankfully I am not missing much.  Outside of a new episode of Top Chef: All Stars, I have focused mostly on reruns of One Tree Hill on SOAPnet (they are airing the last of the Lucas/Peyton years and they’re just as awful and over-the-top ridiculous as I remember), Ovation’s Battle of the Nutcrackers (which showed 5 versions of The Nutcracker ballet and then let the voters pick a winner) and trying to give myself a break from the DVR leading up to next week’s winter premieres.  I hope you’re all having a fabulous holiday and are catching up on all of your important TV viewing during this little break from new episodes.