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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™

posted by on July 22 at 13:38 PM

From the Guardian:

The tentacle-like growth of clandestine advertising in American TV shows in the form of product placement has taken another controversial step with the introduction of McDonald’s products into regional news programmes.

Several TV outlets have begun to sell the fast food giant the right to place cups of its iced coffee onto the desks of news anchors as they present morning current affairs shows.

Typical is Fox 5 News, an affiliate of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox television network in Las Vegas.


I know the news industry is dying and all, but weaseling product placement into news broadcasts crosses the line—it is completely, utterly, unambiguously fucked.

The New York Times has reported that similar deals to place McDonald’s products in news shows are up and running in TV stations in Chicago, Seattle and New York.

Anybody seen one of these weasel ads?

Which newscaster should we string up first?

RSS icon Comments


I'll get upset when anyone but FOX does it.

Posted by elswinger | July 22, 2008 1:44 PM

OMG They've crossed the line.

oh wait, ads are everywhere already, including to the right and left of where I'm currently typing. boohoo.

Posted by anonymonday | July 22, 2008 1:48 PM

King 5 in the morning has Tully's coffe cups by the newscasters.

Posted by Andrew | July 22, 2008 1:49 PM

That is just fucking gross.

Posted by Stephanie | July 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Girlfriend really needs to rethink her choice of blouses. Boob-splitting is never flattering.

Posted by laterite | July 22, 2008 1:51 PM

There's a big difference, anonymonday. Ads should be quarantined in ad-specific places. If you don't see the problem with weaseling ads into news content, you're done for.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | July 22, 2008 1:52 PM

The surface of a desk is now news content?

Just what do you watch the news for, home furnishing tips?

Posted by David | July 22, 2008 1:55 PM

i'm surprised at the flippancy of some of you commenters. i understand that gross stuff like this happens and has been happening in america for a very long time and thus you have become cynical, but the media is a vital social force. once you start to let your guard down on that front shit could get really fucked up. i think fox "news" as a whole is an excellent example of this.

Posted by douglas | July 22, 2008 2:00 PM


Posted by karst | July 22, 2008 2:01 PM


Porn movies have paid product placement for lube...

I don't see much difference.

or, the Stranger CONSTANTLY praising and mentioning their favorite watering holes/advertisers...

Lube, Liberty or McDonalds craplattes...what's the diff?

Posted by michael strangeways | July 22, 2008 2:09 PM

With hot female news babes being the norm these days, I never look lower then their boobs anyway. Cover those up and I'll be the first to complain.

Posted by El Seven | July 22, 2008 2:17 PM

I'm fine with product placement, as long as they're not broadcasting commercials into my dreams.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | July 22, 2008 2:18 PM

"Ads should be quarantined in ad-specific places."

This completely defeats the purpose of advertisements. If all ads were "quarantined in ad-specific places", ads would become totally ineffective.

I assume you have a recommendation in to the owners of your paper that all of the advertisements be placed in the back pages to create a quarantined ad-only area. Good luck with that one.

Posted by w7ngman | July 22, 2008 2:20 PM


What would Dan Devone do?

Posted by john cocktosin | July 22, 2008 2:21 PM

Does anyone actually watch local news anymore?

I mean, other than PBS, which I watch on Comcast OnDemand for free, I pretty much skip it except for disaster news and election night.

Maybe they should realize they're just turning off the viewing public, and aren't half as interesting as The Daily Show, which I do watch.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 22, 2008 2:23 PM

Get used to it. With everyone recording shows and quick-skipping past commercials, this is what all shows will look like.

At least when it comes to pass we will have actual full-length shows instead of 44-minute hours.

Posted by Fritz | July 22, 2008 2:25 PM

@13: I mean commercials, billboards, the banners to the left and right of this column of comments—places where ads are obviously ads and can't be confused for something else. Ads are fine, ads are great, ads pay my salary and health insurance. But they shouldn't be weaseling around, pretending to be something they aren't.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | July 22, 2008 2:25 PM

To answer Brendan's question with another question: To clarify, do you mean because they have product placement like the picture you posted or just in general?

My vote is for John Carlson. As my coworker just perfectly described him, "an ace prick if I ever heard one."

Posted by Etherite | July 22, 2008 2:27 PM

This isn't new. Cigarettes used to be advertised on the evening news.

Posted by rtw | July 22, 2008 2:30 PM

But does the coffee have electrolytes? IT'S WHAT PLANTS CRAVE!

Posted by Original Monique | July 22, 2008 2:33 PM

Of course I think the first person that we should question is NOT the news-castors.... it should be ANN COULTER!!!

Remember the good old days when EVERYBODY HAD JOBS AND MONEY and weezerly poorness didn't bring on heartache and corporate firings by HATCHET MEN HELL BENT ON BLOWJOBS?????

I mean give me a break for nigh-eve-eh-tay' IN DICTIONARY SKILLS and what I will and won't suffer on behalf of my loyalty to discretion, computer intruders from without,LIES, LYING and THE LIARS who LIE about LYING DOWN with the hackers on corporate privatized computers even if it is my fault!


....of course unless it's in defense of gentrification of the soon to be elderly ANN COULTER!

Posted by daniel bennett keieneker | July 22, 2008 2:33 PM

I'm with Brendon.

This completely crosses a line. Once you start doing product placement as part of the news, the news looses any credibility.

Product placement in entertainment is an annoying but accepted practice. I suppose if you look at news as entertainment, and not a source for unbiased reporting, then it really doesn't matter. But any claim at being unbiased goes right out the window if the newscasters are shlepping products at the newsdesk.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | July 22, 2008 2:41 PM


Posted by D | July 22, 2008 2:41 PM

@17 - The cups are on their desk. Yes, it's on the broadcast, but it's not actually in the news stories themselves. It's just sitting there while you listen to them tell you the news. Just like how you have ads to the left and right of the stories you read on the internet or in the newspaper. It's no different.

I'm not saying I like it, but we've seen product placement in movies for years. It's not new. And it's going to get much worse before it gets better.

Posted by sleestak | July 22, 2008 2:45 PM

This never would have happened if Leslie Miller was still on Q13.

Posted by JTContinental | July 22, 2008 2:46 PM

Normally, all I do is make fun of Stranger writers and their communism, but I'm really scratching my head as to what's wrong with this. Let's say there was a good TV news program. I don't know whether such a thing exists or not. What difference does it make if there's a Mac laptop, a pack of Camels and a Big mac on the desk? How is that different from taking the advertiser's money for a commercial spot in the breaks?

Posted by Luke Baggins | July 22, 2008 2:52 PM

If you're watching local morning news and actually taking anything they say seriously, you have more to worry about than whether or not there's a McDonalds iced coffee in front of them. Morning local news = vapid fluff pieces, bad jokes and insincere smiling talking heads with perfect hair. The presence of an iced coffee can't possibly make it any worse than it already is.

Posted by rb | July 22, 2008 2:53 PM

#22, corporate TV news lost credibility long before they started doing product placement.

Posted by w7ngman | July 22, 2008 3:04 PM

Get a grip! Brand Obama™ threatens to become President of the World before its first product introduction, and you're obsessed with what gets spilled on Faux anchordesks?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 22, 2008 3:05 PM

What sucks is you can't trust nobody no more. You start seeing this shit even where it ain't. Stranger would never do dat, would dey?

Posted by 2legit | July 22, 2008 3:10 PM

ah...Leslie Miller and Scott whatshisname...the early 2000's were a very sexy time at Q13.

Posted by michael strangeways | July 22, 2008 3:13 PM

Why am I not surprised that RonK can't tell the difference between Faux News and a local Fox affiliate?

Posted by w7ngman | July 22, 2008 3:19 PM

This is a good step forward. I think some people still were thinking they were getting "news" instead of entertainment. This cuts out that confusion.

Posted by Zander | July 22, 2008 3:26 PM

Once paying for placement becomes universally acceptable can payment for content be far behind?

Posted by inkweary | July 22, 2008 3:41 PM

i think they should add this thread to the blog 'things white people like'

Posted by Jiberish | July 22, 2008 3:51 PM

if you make a news story out of product placement does that mean they are no longer adverts subverting news?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 22, 2008 3:53 PM

It's not the advertising per se, but the fact that, once you start allowing corporate sponsors to place products directly into the program itself, then the station management (and THEY'RE the ones who are making these decisions, NOT the newscasters, Brendan), then even the pretense of objectivity goes out the window.

To answer your (presumably) rhetorical question @26: news media outlets have traditionally maintained a very strict separation between editorial and advertising content. That way it was understood that, while corporations were free to purchase advertising, it would have no relation to, or influence on the news content. But, with on-camera product placement that whole paradigm now gets thrown out the proverbial window.

With the wall down between the advertising and editorial, there's not even a semblence of editorial objectivity or journalistic independence left for the news department: If, as you suggest, McDonald's is putting Big Macs on the desks of local news anchors - and paying for the opportunity - what is the likelihood that you'll hear a report about, say, the detrimental health effects of eating fast food?

And THAT's why product placement, particularly on news programs (whatever else you may think of the merits of such programs) is a really, really BAD idea.

Posted by COMTE | July 22, 2008 4:13 PM

@10, 24, 26, et al.

I'm dismayed you don't recognize the difference between a) honest advertising b) the honest expression of a preference and c) accepting money to pretend you have a preference. Yes, Stranger writers talk up things they like, because they LIKE them. If a newscaster really wants to drink McDonald's coffee—well, that'd be in questionable taste, but it's not the same as taking a check to pretend she likes McDonald's coffee.

The latter, what's happening in this story, is on the same moral footing as me accepting money from a theater to give it a favorable review. It's more subtle, but it's the same thing. It's called bribery, and any newscaster with a conscience and a brain should refuse to participate.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | July 22, 2008 4:29 PM

It's gross, but only as gross as our culture is. Corporations already own the media. Why pretend otherwise?

Posted by violet_dagrinder | July 22, 2008 5:58 PM

Violet @ 39, yes.

Media talking heads and politicians should be reqiured to wear NASCAR style pajamas, with their sponsor's logo patches sewn all over them.

Maybe the top anchormen and women could have a succession of plastic corporate logo baseball caps put on and taken off their heads as the news rolls on, just like NASCAR drivers have to do in victory lane.

Posted by CP | July 22, 2008 6:14 PM

I agree with COMTE @ 37.

Posted by Fitz | July 22, 2008 7:38 PM

It reminds me of that Haitian news cast. "Then I don't need a jacket."

Posted by tabletop_joe | July 22, 2008 7:41 PM

#19 is absolutely right. This kind of arrangement looks incredibly benign next to "Camel News Caravan," the first real television news show.

Posted by Furcifer | July 22, 2008 10:40 PM

I love it when the Stranger comes out to lecture us on journalistic integrity. I mean, without their stellar record to back them up, how else would us idiots know any better?

Excuse me while I grab a drink at Liberty, head over to Neumo's for another, stop in at Cap Hill Fish Fry for dinner and then finish it off with a nightcap at Havana.

Posted by I'm a Nuclear Bomb | July 22, 2008 10:49 PM

Should I be offended? Shit, I'm eating some delicious "Hamburger Helper" right now.(Sorry, I don't know how to do the "TM" thing.)

Posted by lawrence clark | July 23, 2008 12:34 AM

Oh, I forgot...Betty, you can send the check to me in care of "The Stranger".

Nice doing business with you.

Posted by lawrence clark | July 23, 2008 12:43 AM

People still watch TV?

Posted by NaFun | July 23, 2008 7:55 AM

Nuclear forgot Honey Hole, the mediocre, grossly overpraised sandwich shop.

Posted by michael strangeways | July 23, 2008 9:51 AM

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Posted by stayhousegre | July 26, 2008 7:03 PM

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