After a long day, I plan on sitting back and finally watching the last episode of CBC’s Being Erica, a show I began last summer and have yet to finish. While skimming its Wikipedia page I was reminded of Season 4 Episode 8, and the product placement that the video below accurately describes as “egregious.”
It’s difficult to be immersed in a show that shoves advertising down your throat, and I definitely remember being disturbed by it. A car that can park itself is impressive, but watching two characters you’ve grown familiar with ooh and aah as a car salesman lists its features is not. As I watch the clip again and hear the back and forth of “No way” and “Way” it’s hard not to feel a little sick inside.
As was to be expected, the Canadian press was far from thrilled by this. An article on the National Post titled “How Being Erica took product integration too far” cites this episode as the one that caused the author to “break up with Erica.” She also referenced a the following point I had already been planning on making:
Is there anything 30 Rock can’t get away with? The clip above features product placement that is far more in-your-face than what was found in Being Erica, yet manages to pull it off. It’s both meta and very funny, and as a result as viewers we can laugh it off and even respect what the show is doing.
How much, then, can we put up with? I fully recognize that Dr. Pepper plays a fairly prominent role in the first three Spider-man films, and the ridiculous amount of BMWs in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was impossible to ignore. Phones, more than ever have gotten a good amount of screen time in music videos, with so many examples out there I’m not even going to link to one.
Product placement [or integration, which definitely has more positive connotations] has, and will continue to be around, but is this something that we should take for granted and accept? That particular episode of Being Erica sparked an uproar of sorts, with audience members feeling offended that the network would think so little of them. The message behind their complaints seems to be: You can advertise to us, but be subtle about it.
The economy’s not in great shape, and TV shows and movies and music videos can only be made if there’s money to fund them. Since we’re going to keep getting logos flashed in our faces, what should we do? Can we do anything about it? As consumers of the media we should all have standards we expect to be met, but the question now is when do we draw the line?