product placement

Yes: Sheen finally kills 2.5 Men, No: The Biggest Loser is still alive

There are very few shows that I actively go out of my way to watch bits of just so that I can hate on them in an educated fashion. Biggest Loser and Two and a Half Men.

One is finally dead. Charlie Sheen’s self-destructing antics were finally enough to kill it. Though I doubt that will stop Channel 9 showing endless reruns in Australia. He has these odd delusions of grandeur too – this quote, from the Time magazine story:

“”Last I checked, Chaim [the Jewish writer of his series he also said some anti-Semitic stuff about], I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write…”

That’s one down.

The Biggest Loser used to be good. It’s a reality show with real promise, and real benefit, to its contestants and its viewers. But not anymore. Now it’s a cash cow that Channel 10 is milking, Master Chef style. With scant regard to its viewers. Never has the statement that the audience is not the customer, but the commodity, rung more true than when Channel 10, seeking to wring every last dollar out of its advertisers, featured a challenge last night that gratuitously featured contestants chucking 600mL Mount Franklin water bottles onto a cart that was then pulled across a field. This exercise didn’t look like exercise at all. I am not going to go and buy a tonne of water bottles and pull them around by rope on an oval to get fit. And the contestants shouldn’t have to lose their dignity in order to shift a few more units of water. I hope Mount Franklin paid a mint for that placement.

But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is how contrived and over-produced the show has become. The producers are trying to milk every little bit of emotion from the contestants with these bisarre, clearly set-up, monologues. And these contestants are dumb. You have to be a little on the less than intelligent side to grow to 200kg. Surely. But the Red team in this series can’t string a cohesive sentence together to save themselves. So last night, when one guy won a challenge that would see his morbidly obese brother re-enter the competition after they’d tactically put him up for elimination thinking nobody would vote for the fattest guy, walked into the middle of the room and said “I dedicate this win to my brother” – and it was just an odd bit of over dramatisation with no sense of timing. I challenge you to watch every statement those guys say and find something that isn’t repeated, at the behest of a producer, with some overly dramatic affection, or just bumblingly incoherent. It’s a train wreck.

Then, we had the cancer survivor saying that she had never been happier than she was now – and that she’d never really opened up about her cancer until she had the chance to talk to her personal trainer in front of a national audience. Dumb. Really dumb. It’s like the producers said to themselves. You know what. This contestant mentioned that she had cancer in her application to come on the show, so in weeks 3, 6 and 7 we’re going to ham that up a little and get her to film a vignette about what being a cancer survivor is like. We’ll get people to cry. And then they’ll watch more and we can roll around in piles of monies. New bills only. Crisp. Like lettuce. And we will eat caviar and drink sparkling Mount Franklin while our audience gets dumber.

The worst, and most cynical move, from the producers is, I think, new this season. They now end every episode on a cliffhanger. Mid challenge. So you don’t know who wins unless you tune in the next day. This flagrant disregard to viewers, and their decision to invest time watching the ads that companies have chosen to purchase in the scheduled timeslot, is just nasty. And it’s sure to backfire. They’ve jumped the shark. The only way they could jump the shark more obviously would be to take the fat contestants to Sea World. Ostensibly because of the joke about always taking a fat person swimming. And then to, in a slow montage, get each contestant to waterski in a shark infested pool and take them over a jump to show them how far they’ve come. That they’re no longer fatties, but that they can fly. The saddest part is that these contestants are losing their beef while becoming pieces of meat for the populace to enjoy in snack sized bites.

Anti-product placement

I’m surprised this took so long, when I think about it… The New Yorker is reporting that certain brands are buying the products of their competitors and sending them, as freebies, to celebrities of questionable brand value hoping that they’ll stop using their own products, and start using their competitors.

The story focuses on a celeb named Snooki, I take it she’s the US equivalent of Matthew Newton.

“Allegedly, the anxious folks at these various luxury houses are all aggressively gifting our gal Snookums with free bags. No surprise, right? But here’s the shocker: They are not sending her their own bags. They are sending her each other’s bags! Competitors’ bags!

Call it what you will — “preemptive product placement”? “unbranding”? — either way, it’s brilliant, and it makes total sense. As much as one might adore Miss Snickerdoodle, her ability to inspire dress-alikes among her fans is questionable. The bottom line? Nobody in fashion wants to co-brand with Snooki.”

Putting the “product” in production

Following my post earlier today regarding the product placement posters – here are some interesting snippets from this SMH story today. It seems paying for product placement is no guarantee you’ll make the final cut – particularly in the new James Bond movie.
“Researcher the Nielsen Company reports that in the six months to the end of June 2008, the product placement market rose 11.7 per cent in the United States on the corresponding period in 2007.”
“…after years of Bond movies being used as vehicles to market watches, cars, clothes and phones, product placement in the latest movie is relatively restrained. Aston Martin, Smirnoff vodka, Sony and Virgin Atlantic may have paid millions but there is no guarantee their brand will be in the movie.”
“It appears everyone has learnt from the nadir of product placement – 2002’s Die Another Day – which had 25 brands, leading it to be dubbed Buy Another Day.”
Sony Ericsson saw a 20 % rise in sales after Casino Royale was released.
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