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May 9, 2016

Is it a TV Show or is it Advertising?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

Most people can tell the difference between a television show and an infomercial made to look like a TV show. More subtle is advertising within television shows or movies, such as when a product is shown casually on screen (“product placement”).

A TV program that aired last week pushed the concept of product placement to a new level. Here is a 30-second clip from Modern Family, where one of its main characters, a real estate agent, laments being outclassed at career day at his daughter’s school by a periodontist.

Click play button

What 99 and 44/100ths percent of viewers don’t realize is that spiel by actor Ty Burrell was actually an advertisement.


Realtor credit

That’s right, at the end of the program, about three seconds before the screen goes black, viewers learn that the National Association of Realtors paid ABC for that little explanation that not all real estate brokers are “realtors.” (See story.)

We don’t know much ABC got paid for including that in their program, but it frankly seems a bit manipulative of the audience to have subtle advertising masquerading as program content. What do you think?

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  1. Of course it’s advertising. Maybe you should have a new category that differentiates audio/visual from text: Mouse Name-Droppings.

    Comment by Marty — May 9, 2016 @ 6:47 am
  2. Hasn’t MSM been busted all the time when they “talk” about some company or product to find out they were paid to do so? Like when a news report leads in with “here is a new xxxxx that we found and you’ll never believe what it will do to simplify yyyyy”.

    Comment by Lisa — May 9, 2016 @ 8:20 am
  3. Definitely deceptive and certainly not needed for the program content. Shame on ABC.

    Comment by mp omalley — May 9, 2016 @ 8:54 am
  4. This is now the way of things. Big Companies DO NOT have to tell us or warn us of ANYTHING, UNLESS they get “caught” and even then it really doesn’t matter because IF anything even comes of it, a slap on the wrist is all that will happen. EVEN news sites, REAL NEWS SITES are doing it. If ya don’t believe me next time you go to msn.com and do the main scroll, take a closer look at some of them. They DO actually tell you, but when is it approaite for a NEWS SITE to add in things of that nature.

    Comment by Dan — May 9, 2016 @ 10:19 am
  5. This is certainly more than just product placement. Not what I want to see from a show.

    Comment by richard — May 9, 2016 @ 11:52 am
  6. I remember an episode of Warehouse 13 (season 4, episode 13)that they spent a lot of time talking about the new Prius one of the characters just bought and how great it was, listing various features. This, in my opinion, was far more then product placement.

    At least in this episode of Modern Family there was a disclaimer at the end of the clip (as there was none in the Warehouse 13 episode).

    Comment by Tim — May 9, 2016 @ 12:48 pm
  7. I think there is a special name for this that implies more than just product placement. I’ve seen it referred to as ‘native advertising’, where the ad is integrated directly into the actual content.

    The clip above wasn’t so bad, but I’ve seen shows clearly set up a scene specifically to advertise a product or service and it doesn’t mix well.

    Comment by wayne — May 9, 2016 @ 1:44 pm
  8. What Dan describes about news anchors “leading” you into commercials by setting up the product has been happening in Radio, both syndicated and local, for many years. But it’s getting more prevalent these days. Anchors or talk show hosts will not only talk about a specific product to lead you into a commercial, they may even do the entire spot themselves.

    Its when the lines blur between news and ads or entertainment and ads, that we need to be vigilant and make it known we are not pleased.

    Comment by rjdriver — May 9, 2016 @ 3:23 pm
  9. That’s a new one on me! However, sports programs have been doing it for a long time. The last movie I rented from Netflix had a 30 second commercial for a product totally unrelated to the feature movie or the preview films. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Comment by C. Harold — May 9, 2016 @ 6:20 pm
  10. don’t forget the section where he spouts off about all the illegal home improvements to a house and the owner says “what are you, a Realtor?”

    I noticed both bits when they aired, but found them in-character, but just a little detailed. Well done.

    Comment by Robert — May 10, 2016 @ 12:48 am
  11. Many programs have done away with opening credits or theme songs to garner additional time for programming, or more than likely, advertising. Similarly, they run the end credit scroll faster than any normal human can read at the side of the screen during the show’s closing scene to cross-utilize more of their time.

    We are already getting 20 minutes or less of programming per half hour due to advertising, so this looks like one way they are trying to reclaim some programming time while still squeezing in some adverts, or just adding that much more advertising in a somewhat subliminal manner.

    Comment by PC — May 12, 2016 @ 12:40 pm
  12. Weren’t early radio programs and TV programs sponsored by one product, say, Tide, and it was mentioned throughout the program? Like this one:


    Comment by Ambar — May 14, 2016 @ 10:25 pm
  13. I agree, that’s more than product placement – It’s more like service placement, but essentially the same thing, an advertisement for something.

    Product placement is even done on PBS. On “America’s Test Kitchen” I can often pick out the sponsor’s products being used on the show itself. And that’s no accident. Even the kitchen cabinets shown on the set are sponsor products.

    On Network TV, commercial time is out of control anymore, though. “The Big Bang Theory” now has only 17 minutes of show time. They have to pay for all those crazy salaries.

    Comment by Ronnie — May 23, 2016 @ 11:17 pm

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