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Online “Will and Grace” Sell Apartments

Product placement in TV and movies has become common practice. The placement may be casual, as when a character drinks a diet Coke while bemoaning their lackluster sex life, or it may be blatant, as when an entire storyline revolves around Oreos and milk.

Product placement in TV and movies has become common practice. The placement may be casual, as when a character drinks a diet Coke while bemoaning their lackluster sex life, or it may be blatant, as when an entire storyline revolves around Oreos and milk. With the proliferation of online video content, advertisers are looking beyond the small screen for ways — outside of traditional ad spots — to insinuate their product into the mind of the consumer.

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An article in the Chicago Tribune, drew my attention to an intriguing example of “advertainment” — original entertainment content, that is not a commercial, but is financed by advertisers. The series of professionally-produced videos chronicle the adventures of a single gal in the city and her gay best friend. Just as in a traditional sitcom, the young duo lives in a fabulous urban apartment. However, the webisodes, unlike a network sitcom such as “Will and Grace,” purposefully showcase that apartment, because the webisodes were created on behalf of Cressy Developers, a Vancouver-based builder.

The videos, which are hosted at www.donovanlife.com, make the apartment much more than a backdrop. Characters gush about the space and the building — but within the context of the storyline. The videos are clearly designed to be entertainment, not a commercial.

As Americans become inured to typical advertiser outreach, product integration may become the one kind of advertising that people can not avoid. Advertisers have been forced to become more innovative to reach their consumers.

At the recent Madison & Vine conference, an event designed to highlight the intersection between the entertainment and advertising worlds, AdAge reports Pontiac marketing chief Mark-Hans Richer said:

“If we aren’t conducting radical experiments, trying new ways to engage our targets and adding value to them, then we’re not doing our jobs.”

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Are there any radical advertiser experiments that you think have worked well? Or that you find really annoying? Will product placement become as ubiquitous online as it is on television?

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