Even if you’re not in the WB’s target demographic — and honestly, you’d be reading Tigerbeat’s blog if you were — that’s no reason not to tune in tonight at 8 for What I Like About You. According to the WB, this show is about two sisters, one a “teenage livewire,” the other a “straitlaced twentysomething,” who become roommates (no, their names are not Felix and Oscar or Bert and Ernie or Laverne and Shirley or, oh never mind). Tonight’s episode features two characters auditioning for an Herbal Essences ad. Immediately following this scene, during the show’s commercial break, that ad actually appears. As a real ad for Herbal Essences.
However, this is not an in-your-face product placement insists the shampoo’s brand manager: “It’s about launching a new ad in a relevant way in the show’s format.”
Actually, she’s right. This isn’t product placement. It’s product takeover. And it’s yet another sign that we’re swinging back to the early days of television when sponsors had more say in the content of programs. When The Milton Berle Show was the Texaco Star Theater and later the Buick-Berle Show.
What happens when advertisers combine digital technology with rampant product placement? Find out in the November issue of Fast Company, Fast Forward item No. 100.