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Thread: How Not To Do Brand Integration (from AdAge)

  1. #1
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    On the mat

    How Not To Do Brand Integration (from AdAge)


    Crass and Phony Product Placements Make a Dreadful Show Worse

    August 11, 2003
    By Scott Donaton

    Anyone interested in the brand-integration space needs to closely watch NBC's The Restaurant -- to learn what absolutely not to do.

    Already a dreadful show on its own, The Restaurant is rendered nearly unwatchable by product placements that are aggressive, intrusive and clunky -- anything but the seamless blend necessary to make them bearable, never mind bringing them near to the (perhaps unattainable) standard of enhancing the programming.

    Testing viewers' tolerance
    The Restaurant, which chronicles the opening of celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's New York eatery, is not content with showing American Express cards being used to pay for meals, or shots of Rocco pulling up to the door in his Mitsubishi. Instead, it repeatedly and blatantly crosses the line and tests the limits of viewers' tolerance.

    In the first episode, Rocco pulls up in his SUV in front of hundreds of hopefuls auditioning for jobs as waiters and bartenders. One young guy at the front of the line turns to another and says something like -- and this is supposedly spontaneous even though he's wearing a microphone -- "what a perfect car for Rocco. What a chick-mobile." In another episode, a weary Rocco reviews the restaurant's financials after a particularly draining day. He's slumped in a chair, fretting that more money is going out than coming in. Suddenly he announces, awkwardly, "I know what I'll do. I'll have Stacy apply for a line of credit from American Express' Open: The Small Business Network." The camera then cuts to a shot of Stacy at AmEx's Open Web site.

    Crass and phony
    Spare us. The placement is crass and phony, and stops you cold. It's almost impossible to enjoy or trust the show after that. The American Express Open ad that features Rocco and appears during almost every commercial break is salt in the wound.

    It's a mystery why marketers would even want to be associated with the show. The Restaurant is ceaselessly negative. Rocco's range of emotions runs from anger to frustration. His employees are mostly malcontents. Diners complain the food is overpriced, cold and tasteless. Everyone mugs for the cameras. It's riveting, but only in the car-wreck sense.

    The right way
    Contrast that with Bravo's breakout hit Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and it's easy to see why NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker is eager to import the cable show to his broadcast network. Queer Eye is everything The Restaurant isn't -- engaging, funny, original. And it mixes in products without ever stomping on the story. Credit goes to Executive Producer David Collins, who is open to integration but aware of the danger of the show becoming "one big infomercial."

    Queer Eye's Fab Five take makeover candidates on shopping sprees that include retailers tied to the program. The camera reveals quick glimpses of storefront signs but doesn't linger lovingly on them. When the shoppers walk down the street, their Pier One bags are part of the scene, not the focus. The hosts even mock participating marketers. Piling the long hair of a "straight guy" on top of his head, fashion maven Carson Kressley declared that he looked like Kirstie Alley, Pier One's grating spokeswoman.

    Perfect comic timing
    Queer Eye is also just fun. ("You don't own anything except a boomerang," interior decorator Thom Filicia tells one slob with perfect comic timing.)

    "No one will ever have to eat anything they don't want to," Rocco declares in his American Express commercial. It's a jab at tawdry reality programs such as NBC's own Fear Factor. But the pot should think twice before calling the kettle black, especially when the pot is plastered over with logos.

  2. #2
    I get fed up with seeing all the blantant ads in this show. The same goes for the Coke ad placements on American Idol. Enough is enough!!

  3. #3
    A Random Foot Yeti Long Shot: Porpoheus Champion, Tick Tick Bomb Champion, Doyu Gems Champion, Endless Flight Champion, Kitty Throw Champion, Rancho Ice Racer Champion, Big Truck Adventure Champion, Tire Toss Champion PIMguy's Avatar
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    I've thought a few of the lines about sponsor's products sounded like voice-overs.

    Crowded restaurant noise in the background. Someone says "Hey, we're out of beer!"

    Background noise stops. The same voice, but sounding like it's in a sound studio "Get more Coors Light from the Coors Brewing Company in Golden Colorado down here!"

    Background noise picks up again. Same voice again "And we need more clean glasses!"

    All this show makes me want to do is buy a Nissan, drive it to the store and buy some Budwieser with my MasterCard.

  4. #4
    Thanks John for posting this article. After watching last evenings QEST, I am more amazed that someone at NBC, AMEX, or any of the other sponsors hasn't rushed in to fix this unbelievably bad example of product placement.
    While Ralph Lauren is selling bubblegum pink cashmere jackets like hot cakes, I'm guessing that many viewers of this show may go out of their way to avoid ordering a Coors due to the heavy handed placement. There are 10 times as many product mentions in the Bravo show, but they all make sense. I'm done for now...I have to go order some stuff from my "west elm" catalog.

  5. #5
    I have to agree with the article and specifically the contrast between "The Restaurant" and "Queer Eye." Whereas QE is hilariously entertaining AND creative -- these guys get stuff done, TR is a sinking ship erm, restaurant that is going nowhere fast.

    Can it be true that Mark Burnett is only a one-trick pony? I had high hopes for TR, but after viewing and recapping four episodes, I don't see it getting any better. There are occasional moments that are funny (i.e. Meatball Man) but for the most part it's repetitious.

    The product placement is so blatant that it's annoying as hell. I worked in advertising and this is NOT the way to sell products.

  6. #6
    Etta Shootka
    Quote Originally Posted by firenze
    There are 10 times as many product mentions in the Bravo show, but they all make sense. I'm done for now...I have to go order some stuff from my "west elm" catalog.
    LOL! Is that "West Elm" catalog on your "West Elm" coffee table??? Queer Eye just kills me. I love it.

    The Restaurant on the other hand... As a small business owner who uses her AmEx Open account on a pretty regular basis, I really loathe Rocco being this contrived poster boy for Open. I have actually considered writing AmEx to complain. This guy is a pretty crappy businessman who treats staff poorly, and he's the shining star to sell people on AmEx's small business products?!? Yuck. I feel this creepy "guilt by association" thing every time I see the AmEx logo pushed on us during the show.

    - Etta

  7. #7
    Etta Shootka
    Quote Originally Posted by Etta Shootka
    I feel this creepy "guilt by association" thing every time I see the AmEx logo pushed on us during the show.
    Son of a gun. I know it's obnoxious to reply to your own posts, but I just got around to opening my mail from today (at almost midnight - d'oh!) and, lo and behold, what have I received? A mailing from OPEN with Rocco's face on it. It's a glossy brochure all about how Rocco uses OPEN, blah blah blah, with pics of the restaurant and "cute" comments about how sweet the calimari looks in its red-and-white stripey paper serving containers, and how I should be a good do-bee and use their credit line so I can be just like Rocco. Grrr...

    No, thanks!

    - Etta

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