Ad Infinitum

Friday, October 10, 2008


Free television has never been exactly free. In exchange for programming, viewers have always been subjected to commercials. But with Tivo changing the rules, advertisers are integrating products into shows, even the smartest, most-acclaimed shows, like never before. New York Magazine editor Emily Nussbaum explains the unsettling collision of ads and art.
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Comments [6]

Nick Ardinger from Forest Park, IL

When Emily Nussbaum was surprised that the characters from 30 Rock were showing up in the ads, she showed that she has apparently not listened to talk radio in decades. Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, Stephanie Miller--all of them go straight from talking about their subjects to promoting their products--with the same effect as having the characters in the ad. If she finds following in the footsteps of AM radio "extremely clever," what does that say about her credibility?

Oct. 13 2008 04:30 AM
Michael Taylor from Los Angeles

As a thirty year veteran of working below-the-line in the Hollywood film/television industry (set lighting), I appreciate Emily Nussbaum's position decrying product placement -- but I wonder just what she expects the networks to do? Network television is financed by those intrusive commercials we all love to hate -- that's the devil's bargain we all make when tuning in "free" TV. The networks provide programming for no charge -- programs that cost millions of dollars to produce -- and in exchange, the audience is asked (okay, forced...) to watch the commercials. The VCR undermined this compact by allowing viewers to fast forward through the commercials, and now Tivo has obliterated the deal by skipping over them entirely.

What are the networks to do? If viewers are unwilling to uphold their end of the bargain, don't the networks have the right to find a more subtle, Tivo-proof manner of promoting those products that make such programming possible in the first place?

The very foundation of network television is under assault here. If they can't utilize product placement, how are they supposed to make enough money to produce the programming so many of us take for granted?

There are no free lunches in life. One way or another, somebody's got to pay...

Oct. 12 2008 07:15 PM
Mark Kemper from Laurinburg, NC

If the product placement jumps out at me because it breaks the flow visually or spoken it becomes a negative for the product and they lose the sell. Verizon is the worst if they stopped at Verizon while holding a cell phone I would make the connection but they say Verizon Wireless which breaks the flow and sets off the this is an ad bells and whistles.

Oct. 12 2008 05:14 PM
Tom Hennen from Baltimore, MD

Do you find it ironic that in your piece about product placement on Television shows your guest (and the reporter) constantly referred to Tivo? Instead of "fast-forwarding through a commercial" it was "tivoing through it."

I expected at least some self-awareness from the piece calling attention to this and I was disappointed when it didn't occur.

Oct. 12 2008 12:03 PM
Amanda M. Staats from Jersey City, NJ

In 1988 the cult -(near) classic, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, came out and in that movie is a scene within a scene where the actors try to pay for the rest of the movie by figuring out product placement that will fund them enough to complete the film. By the way-one of those actors is a young George Clooney.

Oct. 12 2008 10:55 AM
andrew hennessy from college park, md

Seriously, you all are talking about commercial television? It has been about advertising since W.W.II.

Ever read N. Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves To Death?”

Oct. 11 2008 03:38 PM

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