Baffling product placements

25Feb09

More and more TV shows seem to be relying upon product placements as a way to monetize their content. After all, you can’t fast-forward through these subtle (or not so subtle) spotlights on a product, since the placements are intertwined with the narrative. Ok, I get that part. But what’s the point of inserting your product into the content if you’re not depicting it in a way that viewers can relate to?

Case in point: the show “Damages” on FX. Cadillac is the primary sponsor of the show, and there’s no shortage of badge shots and awkwardly long pauses on the swanky interiors of their vehicles. But there are also several scenes in recent episodes where the characters enter an address into the Cadillac navigation system. Presumably, the goal is to show how easy it is to use Cadillac’s nav interface. If that’s where the story ended, it would be a slick campaign, indeed.

Of course, there’s a problem. You see, the characters aren’t entering a street address or cross streets. Instead, they’re typing in map coordinates like you’d get from a GPS device. Um, have you ever given a friend directions or looked up a destination using the latitude and longitude values? I doubt it. So, Cadillac is basically spending all this money to show people how easy it is to perform a task that almost nobody ever does. And this should serve as a lesson to anyone considering a product placement: make sure that the way characters in the show use your product actually makes sense to real people, too.



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