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Monday, March 06, 2006

Industry: Branded Entertainment Backlash


The NYT reports on a viral site created by the Writers Guild of America, West. Productinvasion.com is filled with parodies of things like Subservient Chicken (Subservient Donald) and Top Model. It's trying to be funny but it comes off as a bit whiny. Seems these are a bunch of reality show writers who get pissed that they have to write in a can of soda at the last minute. Actually we'd all be happy if the advertisers ruin reality shows for good and then we can get back to watching decent stuff on TV again.

9 comments:

Lachlan said...

If you ask me there's a world of difference between having to write-in brand /product placements into exisiting ideas vs content ideas that are inspired or centered around the brand.

Hence - I hope :o) - the difference between the kind of brand platforms we create around a brand idea and endless product placement on things like the apprentice...

MNels said...

Getting back to watching decent stuff again? I guess I must have missed the golden era of high quality TV. I guess there was Alf and Saved by the Bell.

El Gaffney said...

i agree, lachlan. but must admit that i can't think of a single reality show whose story got ruined by a product placement. let's take project runway for example. in each episode models and contestants go to the l'oreal makeup room and tresemme hair salon. not disruptive at all. and the banana republic and barbie episodes were classic.

p.s. they need to stop using the apprentice as a case of brand takeover. each episode requires a real brand for the challenges. without brand involvement there'd be no show, no story. forget the fact that we're funding the entire show and thus their writing gigs.

p.p.s. yeah, i just p.p.s-ed this shiznit. sitcoms are set in a world without brands. these writers create the characters, the story, and the rules. if these reality writers don't want brands involved in their shows, they should stop capitalizing on real people, real lives and the reality tv hype.

p.p.p.s. it's katie, not el gaffney.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

but we do have to recall that the "reality" show explosion was never driven so much by an entertainment idea that audiences just "loved", as it was an alternative content to fill in during the last big writer's strike a few years ago. networks suddenly greenlighted every tired gameshow retread and reality shows were quick-easy content plugs that networks then realized could work long-term, too. in fact, most of them aren't even American ideas, they are retreads of tested successes in Britain or Japan.

so writer's do have a bit of a valid complaint (as do usa's factory workers for instance) cuz there is an organized plan to phase them out (and production crews, and film processing, and actor's residuals). they are not completely paranoid about that reality.

should they just get over it? should america's factory workers? dunno, but i also admit it is a reality that is here to stay. stage theater actors complained at the shift to movies, silent movie stars bitched at the "talkie", radio talent ranted at the tv. now cinemaplex moguls complain about everything else drawing the kids' attentions. seems clear that these are permanent shifts and tomorrow's blockbusters and tv will be made by 2 guys with a camera and a gullible group of teens caught up in "reality". "reality" is cheaper, and hell, it can even be co-financed by procter&gamble and cambell's (like it used to be!). it draws the same, if not more audience. and to Mark Nelson's point, it's no worse than Alf, CopRock and Manimal.

Lachlan said...

Stop right there - say what you like about reality TV, But I won't hear anything bad said about Manimal!!

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

sensitive...ok, how 'bout i insert a refernce to the classic tv writing brought to us in AUTOMAN (http://www.chuckwagner.com/automan.html)? or MISFITS OF SCIENCE (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088568/ - which by the way was courtney cox' first tv series)? or BJ AND THE BEAR (http://timstvshowcase.com/bj.html)...such a legacy of great writing - now ruined by the substandards of reality tv.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

hell, the more i think about it, THESE HOLLYWOOD "WRITERS" GOT SOME NERVE TALKIN' TRASH ABOUT ANYBODY'S BAD TV...THEIR LEGACY IS NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF WHATSOEVER. they may need to just pipe down and take the easy "reality" money while it's flowin'. network execs would have no qualms about re-running Automan and Manimal if they thought we'd watch the damn thing!

Lachlan said...

OMFG "Automan"! that crap is still buried away in my brain... what a show, it actually does make manimal seem like it was good!

A. said...

to add to what aki was saying about the origins of reality tv:

another truth about why the networks are programming so much reality is that its waaaay cheaper for them to produce, and they don't tend to see ratings drop offs. so if the risk is just as high to produce a new sitcom or a new reality show, the economics points you to the reality show.

you see this in action with the networks' primetime news magazine shows. remember when Dateline, 20/20 and 48 Hours seemed like they were on ALL THE TIME? that's because they were cheap-to-produce primetime filler. wondering why you don't see them on nearly as much anymore? because reality shows are just as cheap to produce and get better ratings.

what does this all boil down to for the disgruntled tv writers? an evaporating source of income that you'll take any angle to defend. my hypothesis here is that the writers aren't actually pissed about all the product placement (which i agree is horrendous), rather, what they're really pissed about is that their gig is drying up as the network suits realize they don't need them as much as they used to.