There's actually a history behind this practice. In the days of classic radio and early television, advertisers often produced network programming, their product's names featured prominently throughout. At least one old radio comedy incorporated creative mentions of sponsors' products in the dialog of the show. As time passed, advertising became more sophisticated and producers of programming insisted on a sort of separation of art and commerce. (All the while accepting the checks that commercial interests cut for the artists.)
The past few episodes of the excellent NBC series, American Dreams, set in the 1960s, has taken product placement to new heights. (Or, new depths, depending on your perspective.) One of the show's characters is working on an essay sponsored by Campbell's Soup. On this past Sunday's episode, she enlisted the help of her mother's colleague at work in the crafting of her entry. After one scene, during the commercial break, an ad for Campbell's was shown. Later, still more talk about the fictional Campbell's contest and a brief view of a 60s-vintage ad came in the actual show. That was followed by a real Campbell's ad for a real-life 2004 Campbell's essay contest, exactly like the one in the show.
It was wall-to-wall Campbell's. Surprisingly, though we noticed it as we watched, this product placement saturation didn't seem to detract from the episode and its many plot lines for my family and me.
(By the way, I'm open to any offers advertisers might want to make for product placements on this blog site...I'm kidding...Sort of. Be warned though, that you'll have to make a really great offer. That's because my exclusive deal with Google AdSense has proved to be incredibly lucrative. Since installing it two weeks ago, I've made a whopping 79-cents for those little ads at the bottoms of this blog's pages!)
For what it's worth, the Saint Louis Cardinals have been, as far as I'm concerned, the best major league baseball team this year. (I was going to say, "for my money," but I only have 79-cents!) I don't see how anybody, not even the New York Yankees, can stop them this post-season. Of course, if I turn out to be wrong, I will expunge this post from living memory.
On the night of the Cheney-Edwards debate, Northern Kentucky University, here in metropolitan Cincinnati, held a lecture/debate involving 1992 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. The two, both heroes of World War Two who served in the US Senate, have worked with one another for years on hunger and agriculture issues. Each had some interesting things to say about this year's presidential election.
An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer quoted McGovern, a former pastor and historian and World War Two bomber pilot, as saying:
"This campaign did not invent the bitter attack," McGovern said at Tuesday's press conference. "That's been going on since the days of George Washington.And from Dole:
"In my campaign it was done, but it was done more cleverly with a little more sophistication," he said. "But I think frankly it wasn't the kind of slugfest we seem to be getting now."
"You got more cable, more radio, more written press, you got the Internet, you got - I don't know what they are - something called bloggers," Dole said. "The ads are negative, and it's almost gotten to the point where if I can destroy my opponent before he destroys me, I win.Of course, nostalgia is dangerous history and McGovern is right that Washington was the object of onerous personal assaults (usually orchestrated from behind the scenes by the cowardly Thomas Jefferson) and even Dole and McGovern launched some nasty words their opponents' ways in past campaigns, but the barbs and negative ads have also been particularly vicious this year. I can hardly wait for November 3 to get here so we can get this garbage behind us for now!
"That's sort of a sad commentary, but I don't know how we change it," he said.