Now placements do not end when the director says, Cut. The next frontier of product placements? Reruns. In 2001, New Jersey based Princeton Video Image was negotiating a ten-year deal to embed computer-generated logos and ads into reruns of Law and Order when it aired twice a night on TNT. For example, a Kenneth Cole billboard could be added to the background of an outdoor shot, or a logo could be prominently added to a shirt.
The possibilities are scary to think about. One day, we could be watching a rerun of ER with George Clooney wearing a logo that wasn’t originally there or repeats of Miami Vice with Don Johnson walking in front of billboards for companies that didn’t even exist back then. The Real World Fashion product placement is somewhat expected in the fictional world of TVon sitcoms, soap operas, and dramasbut now, clothing companies have begun to recognize the benefit of placing their clothes in the realm of nonfictionon news programs, game shows, talk shows, and so-called reality shows. And producers have been happy to oblige. In March 2002, entertainment news show Extra ran a fashion segment in which they sent a reporter to try on the season’s menswear looks.
The show’s host, Leeza Gibbons, followed up by informing viewers that the last suit seen in the segment was the Deal of the Day, and could be found by logging on to the show’s website. On MTV’s show Becoming, in which fans get made over to look like their favorite artists and then re-create one of their videos, the show’s producers arrange for the fans to receive a room full of goodies. So at one point in every episode, the lucky recipients are filmed gushing about the gifts: Oh, these pants are from J. Lo’s new line! They hooked us up with new Nikes! On MTV’s product-filled Real World/Road Rules Challenge, cast members would read aloud messages from their cell phones like Come wearing your Puma gear.
Hosts and correspondents on news programs and talk shows can be nearly as effective as celebrities at setting trendsthey’re seen by millions of viewers each day, unlike Hollywood stars who aren’t typically in view on a daily basis. On Today, Katie Couric mentioned her dainty mules on the air one morning and sparked a barrage of phone calls to Manolo Blahnik stores. Knowing the potential for such publicity, companies have become much more aware of this forum. When the end credits roll on many local news programs and talk shows, you are likely to catch a Wardrobe provided by . . . plug. In return for a quick credit, clothiers are more than willing to supply hosts and anchors with free or loaned clothes. From E! News Live’s Jules Asner, to the Food Network’s Hot off the Grill host Bobby Flay, to VH1 News’s Rachel Perryall have their outfitssuppliers plugged when the closing credits roll.Freedom of Speech Ltf
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