Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Defense Of... Product Placements

Every now and then a product placement disrupts the drama on Days Of Our Lives...and I don't mind a bit. 

Last week it was Caroline pimping out Wanchai Ferry's "Complete Meal For Two"...

...and not too long ago we had Arianna and Gabi talking about Midol:

The Wanchai Ferry ad was a bit of stretch, since it took place in the Brady Pub, where the Salem citizens dine daily.  Really? Caroline, famous for her delicious cooking, is serving up frozen Chinese food? Yeah, that was far-fetched. (That must be why they put in Caroline's line about how the kids "couldn't get enough of it". I guess those finicky Brady grandkids haven't developed a taste for Caroline's Chowder yet!) 

The Midol ad seemed more appropriate; soap heroines have gone through sooooo much over the years, it's about time they started crying out for some relief! 

I wonder how the writers feel about having to insert theses scenes into their scripts. It must be hard to segue from a character lamenting over her ex-fiance kidnapping her daughter to enjoying a 'complete meal' frozen dinner kit...but, hey, isn't that how life goes? I mean, ya still  gotta eat, right?

And besides, if it's the right fit, a product placement works well. Some years back (and I'm sorry I couldn't find a clip for this one), Bo gave Hope some jewelry as a gift. The men on soaps are CONSTANTLY presenting their women with jewelry, but in this particular episode the camera zoomed in on the box to show us that it was from JC Penney. It was a pin in the shape of a boat, to represent the couple's boat The Fancyface. Hope loved it...and so did I! Bo and Hope's decades-long relationship has often been described as "he's beer and she's champagne", so to me this scene was perfectly in character. Of course Bo would shop at JC Penney, and  of course Hope would love whatever he bought for her. In fact, I think they should go even further with this: I   often notice the unmistakable Diesel tag on the front of Bo's jeans–maybe actor Peter Reckell wears Diesel, but  the character he plays wouldn't be caught dead paying $200 for a pair of jeans! Why not outfit Bo in a whole wardrobe from JC Penney? If there was ever a Levi's guy, it's Bo.

One of the reasons I love soaps is that they are still charmingly low-budget. Because of this constraint, the sets are minimal and often unconvincing. It's almost like watching a local theater production on your TV–and I mean that in a good way. In these days of multimillion dollar blockbusters with their computer-generated special effects, there's something about the humble world of daytime drama that is very refreshing. It takes you back to the early days of television, when the shows regularly had characters shilling for products. The mother of all sitcoms, Gertrude Berg, spoke of Sanka coffee and Ecko kitchen products in character as Molly Goldberg on the soap-like comedy The Goldbergs.

Guiding Light and As The World Turns have already been canceled, and I'm sure more cancelations are on the way. The soap operas are being killed off like victims of the Salem Stalker–except that these victims won't be miraculously returning from the dead. So if product placements are what Ken Corday needs to do to make some extra cash in order to keep his folks' serial on the air, I'm all for it.


  1. If they are going to blatantly insert commercials into the show, why not just get rid of the commercial interruptions altogether?! So long as they segue into the product placement smoothly while I'm watching House, I wouldn't mind. That way we won't have to suffer through the "hanging drama" that occurs without fail before every commercial break.

  2. I would like to add that the "captcha" that I had to type in before posting my previous comment was "moggl." In addition to making me laugh out loud at how close it was to the J.K. Rowling-coined "muggle," it also made me want to watch the newest Harry Potter movie again. See?! Subtle advertising.