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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chabad Gets Free "Product Placement" on "Friends"

I don't watch much television, though I do leave it on sometimes. And occasionally I catch something.

"Product Placement" amounts to a form of advertising that is done subtly in film and television. The situation comedy "Seinfeld" did a lot of product placement for things like Jujyfruits, Junior Mints, Snapple, Oreos, Ovaltine, and the J. Peterman clothing company, among many others. This is not by accident. Ever. (I took Communications and PR in school). Many of these products became a main point or "running gag" of the Seinfeld scripts, and the scripts were written to accomodate these product insertions.

The show's creators claim that they were not engaging in a product placement strategy for commercial gain. Hah! Somewhere, somebody's making money. Here's how the deals work, sometimes. There are agencies that deal in nothing but product placement.

Here is an older article from Business Week which mentions the movie "Toy Story" - director Joe Dante has said that Hasbro's role was a "serious" part of why the movie got made at all.

This also happens in everyday news. "Starbucks is now using recyclable paper cups!" chirps your local newreader. This is filler. This filler was provided by Starbucks' PR department as a news release, which is not paid for by the news caster, but amounts to a ton of free advertising for Starbucks. There is a lot of this going on. Just watch the news. You'd almost think there was nothing else important that needed to be covered.

So now we have an episode of "Friends" where Matt LeBlanc is at home with nothing better to do than watch the Chabad Telethon. Most people in the US have no idea what Chabad is much less that they have a telethon. As for the telethon, I would never have known unless it was for the "free advertising".

And here is a real ad by the cast of "Friends" for the real Chabad:

Other videos on the Chabad telethon show Bob Dylan and Harry Dean Stanton with Jon Voight officiating, Michael Douglas stumping for it, converted-to-Judaism and part-time Satanist Sammy Davis Jr. performing, and even that other schwartzer, Gary Coleman, showing his support. Other celebrity endorsements have been provided by Dom Delouise, Larry King, Regis Philbin, Leonard Nimoy, Melissa Gilbert and I'm sure many others.

It's too bad Gary Coleman didn't raise money for those other Rabbis - at least they could have gotten him a new kidney.

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