Do I Write Scripts or Advertising Copy?

More and more commercials are creeping into the narrative of TV shows. Here’s an example mentioned in Wired magazine:

The use of product placements has increased 84 percent on television in the last
year, according to the WGA’s call for regulations. "There is no clear line
separating a TV show from an advertisement anymore," said Carrie McLaren, editor
of Stay Free

In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to
work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times
because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even
had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into
friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.

It’s one thing to have James Bond drive a BMW  (or, going back a few decades, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. drive a new Ford around D.C. landmarks each season during the end credits of THE FBI), or Monk using a particular brand of disinfectant wipe, but it’s quite another to create whole scenes purely for the purpose of pushing a particular product. The MEDIUM example strike me as particular egregious…and something a writer should be additionally compensated for.

5 thoughts on “Do I Write Scripts or Advertising Copy?”

  1. So I’m wondering if you know whether there’s product placement in books….there are a couple of products that are consistenly mentioned in a popular series of detective novels. It makes me think that the novelist may be receiving some sort of compensation. It doesn’t bug me, but I am curious…

  2. It’s all those evil people who record shows and fast forward through commercials that are causing this. Or the Tivo people who skip them even easier then I do.
    I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see the same commercials 20 times in the same evening on two different shows. Especially if you are promoting your own shows. (Are you listening WB?)

  3. I think advertisers have a lot to learn about respecting the consumer’s intelligence. Less is sometimes more. We live in a world where we’re bombarded by spam, sales calls, junk mail, and pop-up ads. Piling more on top of that may just get people to realize they don’t need to watch TV at all. This is a luxury, folks, not a necessity.
    Lately my husband and I find that the commercial breaks are so long we easily lose track of what was happening in the show. If one wants to sleep while the other watches TV, there’s a continuious need to adjust the volume because commercials are so much louder than programming—more so the later at night we watch.
    Sometimes it’s just easier to turn it off and pick up a book.

  4. I’m okay with it, myself. For me it heightens the reality of the show, since the people in it are going to the same movies I am, eating the same foods I see in the stores and so on. I always found the faux labels and such vaguely off-putting. I know they’re fake, so they have the effect of maliciously keying my previously shiny and pristine veneer of suspended disbelief.


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