Monday, February 24, 2003

The future of product placement is now.

Alias is at the vanguard of the new model of product placement -- turning segments of a show into outright commercials, thereby getting around Tivo-nation and channel flippers. Last night wasn't the first time a Ford Focus was prominently displayed in an episode; however, it is the first time I can recall dialogue like, "What is she driving?" "A Ford Focus." "What model?" "The FX50 [or whatever, I don't know Focus model numbers]." "What color?" "Uh ... blue. Why do you need to know that?" "Well, I was thinking about getting one..."

Surprisingly, as blatant and comical as it was to have the CIA's top spies fawning over the Focus (it's a long way from Bond's cars), I actually didn't mind it that much. I never once felt like Alias was art. It's pretty much the best network TV has to offer by way of utterly artless, mindless fun. Same as 24. I kinda like well done commercials, 30-second snippets of humor in service of capitalism. The one with guy who puts his dog on his head to get a beer, the dog that turns the A/C on, any commercial with a chimp or monkey that doesn't also feature Carrot Top, I can be amused by that. If shows like Alias are able to make their integrated commercials of the same quality as the better commericials, then fine. Drop the pretense altogether that the show is anything but a product to deliver the real product, consumers, to advertisers. It's almost refreshing honesty. Of course, when the same approach is taken with children who don't know how to differentiate between the show and the commercial and we end up with a nation of Coke-sipping, Levis-wearing zomboids we'll have only my complacency to blame.
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