Thursday, October 27, 2005

Plot line: Drink Pepsi!

By John Furia Jr.
LA Times

TELEVISION, particularly reality TV, is erasing the line between content and advertising by clumsily grafting sponsors' car brands, soft drinks and other products into story lines.

American television has always been a commercial medium. Advertisers pay the bills. Early shows, following radio's lead, often jumped through hoops to promote sponsors—beginning with the launch of Texaco Star Theater in the 1940s. But this commercialization never penetrated the artistic product. Classic shows, from "Bonanza" to "Seinfeld," managed not to sell out to sponsors.

That's changed. On "The Apprentice," for instance, contestants now compete in what are essentially hourlong commercials to market brand names, including Burger King. In the episode sponsored by the burger chain, the contestants ran around like goofballs trying to come up with catchy taglines for its latest product. They then donned Burger King's blue and yellow uniforms and struggled to perform jobs easily mastered by high school dropouts. Why? The fast-food chain paid upward of $2 million to have its newest hamburger flipped by Donald Trump's would-be minions. Never mind selling real estate — on "The Apprentice," contestants win challenges by shilling for major advertisers.


No comments:

Post a Comment