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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Re: This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™

posted by on July 22 at 18:52 PM

For all of the commentors on this post (about McDonald’s weaseling product placement into news broadcasts) who don’t understand the difference between advertising and bribery: I’ve seen the—yellow, dual-arched—light.

I struck a deal with the McDonald’s people this afternoon. They’ve agreed to sponsor Theater News. A couple weeks of this and I’ll never have to work again.

Thanks, everybody!


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You should do theater reviews of McD stores. Plenty of psychodrama going on there. Not as exciting as IHOP (where I once sat next to a mental patient who started to wave a sword around) but about on a par with the Greenwood Fred Meyer, say.

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 7:25 PM

...and no journalistic integrity was lost.

Posted by A Non Imus | July 22, 2008 7:45 PM

I'm looking forward to your review of McShake-speer's Merchant of McCheese.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 22, 2008 8:35 PM

got it. If you take money for an ad to the side of an article, that's advertising. But, if you take money to put a McD's Latte on the desk during a newscast, that's bribery because...

Posted by Luke Baggins | July 22, 2008 8:59 PM

Back to you Ed.

*long pause*

Sorry, Jane, I was taking a sip of my delicious McDonald's iced coffee beverage.

Aren't those things just phenomenal, Ed?

They sure are, Jane. I would recommend this smooth creamy flavor to anyone.

Posted by w7ngman | July 22, 2008 9:37 PM

Yeah, it's not like their editor allowed a member of the advertising staff to write under a pseudonym and then cut checks to her real name only to have said editor get fired and then re-hired while the ad rep still got the can.


Posted by I'm a Nuclear Bomb | July 22, 2008 10:44 PM

In a perverse way, I'm in favor of this development. There are still people out there who believe the things they see on the local TV news. Hopefully, not for much longer.

You laugh, but I met some Russians who lived in the Soviet era reading Pravda. It is possible for a populace to completely lose faith in the media's ability to present facts. I've seen it in action and it looked very liberating.

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 22, 2008 11:09 PM

@5 Nice that you went so far as to create an entire ficticious on-air conversation out of thin air... major in melodrama did you?

How is this different from Professional Athletes wearing sponsored clothing? How is this different from banner ads on the side of a webpage? How is this different from product placement in film? How is this different from Blogs pasting advertisements between posts?

I may see a fucking mahogany desk in front of a newscaster, but I sure as hell ain't gonna buy one because it'll make me look like Katie Couric.

Stop being such fucking babies- Unless you hear a newscaster praising a product on air, it does little to affect the public opinion. Wake me up when they actually stoop to that level- And until then, I'll just tune it out like the obnoxious Stranger banner ads.

Posted by Mojo Mojito | July 22, 2008 11:41 PM

Is any news other than Fox News doing this?

Posted by K X One | July 23, 2008 1:23 AM

Upside: Now we can watch football together.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | July 23, 2008 7:03 AM


If you had any class at all, you'd be like me, and endlessly shill for the Children's Television Workshop. But no, instead, you went for the merchants of Happy Corporate Death Meals.

How could you, Brendan, how could you?

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | July 23, 2008 8:32 AM

If this was any other country, I'd be the first to agree with you Brendan. I'd be like "Don't do it!!!!! DON'T GO TO THE DARK SIDE!"

But as it is, so many conglomerates own news programs, they have to say "this next story is about a company our parent company owns..." or some such copy. Already most of what they say is tainted because of that. This will be much more obvious and transparent, so really it's a step in the obvious direction.

Posted by Original Monique | July 23, 2008 9:12 AM

@1 is totally right about IHOP. I've been working there for two years and some crazy shit goes on.

Posted by emily | July 23, 2008 9:27 AM


Posted by michael strangeways | July 23, 2008 9:42 AM

#8, I'm on your side. My not-obvious-enough point was that they are not doing that. I was just trying to parody what an actual bribe would look like.

Posted by w7ngman | July 23, 2008 10:18 AM

In more a serious development along similar lines, here's Glenn Greenwald on how deep the Democratic National Convention is in the bag for the telecoms.

Read all the way down. It's worth it.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 23, 2008 10:20 AM

Brendan, your point is taken, but you probably could have used a more cogent example.

For instance, how much would it cost me to slap Annex Theatre's logo next to your mug?

@8: I can very easily tell you how it's "different": the professional athlete isn't in the business of providing you with information that will allow you to make intelligent decisions about what's going on in the world around you, how it may effect you, and how you will respond accordingly. That's what journalists are for, and until very recently at least, we've trusted them to do their jobs without the sort of corporate interference you imply, which is one reason those pesky disclaimers come in handy.

And product placement in film is actually a VERY hot-button issue right now, and one of the reasons SAG has reached an impasse in its current contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Actors are rightfully concerned about being CONTRACTUALLY REQUIRED to shill products and/or services they don't personally support, and aren't being compensated for endorsing, even if they do approve.

What you suggest, the "public praising" of the products placed on-air is of course the next logical step down the slippery slope, the first one being for corporations to get the product on-camera, which is what this is really all about.

Advertisers are sophisticated enough to recognize that most people won't in fact go rushing out to buy that McCoffee or whatever the hell it's called, just because it's sitting on the anchor desk, and that's not really even the point. The POINT is to make the product appear so ubiquitous, to create such an automatic association in the viewer's mind that they are prompted to remember the product, even if they're not intending to purchase it outright.

How many times do people walk into a restaurant and order a "Coke", when they don't really even care if that's what they get - or when the establishment in question doesn't even serve Coke? THAT's the sort of scenario that causes advertisers to cream themselves: when a product becomes so all-pervasive that the brand name serves as a generic descriptor for an entire category of products. The makers of Xerox copiers and Kleenex tissue may complain (a bit) about such generic usage of their brands, but they'd be much, much more upset if for example people started saying, "hey, Ralph can you Canon this report for me?" instead.

Posted by COMTE | July 23, 2008 10:49 AM

Did Comte and Mudede have some sort of Vulcan mindmeld?

Posted by michael strangeways | July 23, 2008 3:30 PM

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