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August 12th, 2008

Get Your Commercial Out of My Show, Jerks

As mentioned here recently one of my favorite newish TV shows is Psych, which airs on USA here in the US (go USA! Woo!) but a few recent product placements are leaving me peeved.

On last week’s show, Foot Locker got a quick shout out and Red Robin got an entire scene. It started with Shawn, the main character, pitching a freaking milkshake to his father. A 15-second ad, wholly unnecessary; the rest of the scene wasn’t related to the restaurant and could have taken place anywhere.

The week before that, a scene featured a daredevil’s assistant who showed his back to the camera… which had a gigantic Dunkin’ Donuts patch on it. (In fact, he was probably an extra – he had no lines and we never saw his face.) Naturally Shawn and other main guy Gus started talking about coffee and donuts. For about 15 seconds or so. This was on top of the references to Taco John’s and Red Robin (again!) in the ep.

After this week’s faux pas I took my outrage to the appropriate place: Television Without Pity. There was already one comment in agreement with me and I watched the comments roll in after my own. “Great!” I thought, “More people who will agree!” And… well… people didn’t mind the product placement. Their argument, in general, was that so long as it was involved in the story in some way it was fine. I was in the minority by a wide margin.

My response to those people, which I haven’t posted there yet is, “Are you out of your freaking minds?”

This, to me, is yet another line that has been crossed in the name of selling us more crap. When I was a kid our house was the first on the block with cable TV; the promise then was that commercials wouldn’t be necessary on cable because you were paying for it. Unfortunately commercials soon crept in. And then it was more commercials. And speeding up shows via “time compression”. And longer commercial breaks. And logo bugs on the screen. And promos on the screen. And pausing the show to have a commercial on screen. And writing the script to support an advertiser (yes, Red Robin did buy ad space during the show too.)

I don’t care for the reasons people give on this – shows cost more, TiVo made everybody cry – it’s BS. I’m already paying money to see this show; now it’s getting to the point where no matter how much I choose to pay, I’m going to be forced to watch commercials. As you can tell, I have very little tolerance for people who have accepted this as The Way It Is. It doesn’t have to be this way – it’s just entertainment, and it doesn’t need to sell us anything.

I guess I got riled up by seeing blatant placements two weeks in a row and I’m definitely disliking the show more solely because of this. I’m not watching the show for the commercials. I’m half expecting the show to sell naming rights to itself… in fact, if it was a choice between that and these obnoxious, crappy placements I’d take Red Robin presents Psych sponsored by Taco John’s in association with Foot Locker and Dunkin’ Donuts “It’s worth the trip”™ first. No question.

Posted in Consumer Commentary, Television, Movies, and Music

Aimee August 12, 2008, 8:10 pm

I agree with you more than a hundred percent (if that’s possible). I HATE product placement; it’s totally gross and gratuitious and if I were an actor on the show, I’d want to quit. It’s nothing new, though, but it still sucks.

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