How TV is foiling ad skippers

Think you have the commercials beat? Television programs are finding new ways to sell you stuff.

By Kim Peterson Oct 25, 2012 4:45PM
Image: Couple on sofa watching television together -- Blend Images, Hill Street Studios, the Agency Collection, Getty ImagesLike to fast-forward your way through television commercials? Companies are finding more ways to get around that -- including new product placements within shows that border on obnoxious.

Take this week's "New Girl," which should should have been called "New Awesome Ford Fusion." The episode featured Zooey Deschanel's character Jess stumbling around for two minutes trying to model at an auto show. All the while, an announcer raved about the features in Ford's (F) new Fusion. (You can see a short clip here.)

Ford could have bought two minutes of commercial time, but we would have skipped right through it. How many viewers skipped through that segment of the show? Not many, I'd guess.

So viewers came out knowing much more about the Fusion -- which, by the way, also sponsors features on the "New Girl" website.

It's one of the more in-your-face examples I've seen from the generally cheeseball product placement business. And we'll see more going forward as advertisers explore ways to force their products upon captive eyeballs.

My colleague Jason Notte pointed out the ridiculous advertising placement for Toyota (TM) on "Bones." Check out this YouTube clip showing an awkward scene in which Emily Deschanel's character explains her Prius' intelligent parking. "The car guides itself into the parking spot," she says. "Wow, look at that," responds her co-star. What is it with the Deschanel sisters and product shilling?

Entertainment Weekly has more examples, including the proclamation on "90210" that "drinking Dr. Pepper is practically a requirement" on road trips. Ugh.

Product placement is pretty much a given now, and audiences for the most part seem to accept it. Usually, however, it's more subtle and artfully executed (unless it's "30 Rock," which takes the idea and smashes you over the head with it). See this roundup for more examples.

But television shows may be able to wring more advertising money from more blatant promotions, like the Ford Fusion gag. So expect to see more of these in-program stunts. It'll be enough to make you pine for the days of 30-second commercials.

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138Comments
Oct 25, 2012 6:41PM
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I am very frustrated about the amount of advertisements in the shows and on the insert banners including the stupid channel logo in the corner on TV.  First  the shadowed logo and the banners stating" you are watching xyz" and then "next is yxz"  are insulting to my intelligence, are demeaning to me as a viewer and finally cause interruption to my enjoyment of the program.   For years i had hoped that someone would start a protest blog or boycott to the sponsors to get rid of these atrocious ads.    And yes the product references showing up on the shows also distract from the content. 
I realize Free TV has never been free......but this is ridiculous.     Here is another insult. During live news shows we get more advertising about what is coming up next than we get real content.   If the live show had to fill the short amount of real live time with out pushing content for the next show we might be able to actually get some detail on the story instead of several small sound bites. 
Oct 25, 2012 7:02PM
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The increase in volume is the worst when an ad comes on. Its like WTF not buying your $h!t now.
Oct 25, 2012 6:50PM
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If commercials get too obnoxious I turn the TV off and read a good book. It's getting so TV commercials want more than equal time in a program and the FCC doesn't seem to care, well I do with the on off switch.
Oct 25, 2012 7:59PM
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their is not much worth watching these days anyway , so I just turn the thing off
Oct 25, 2012 9:26PM
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I love my (mute) button, every time when commercials come on (mute). 
Oct 25, 2012 7:49PM
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I pay for TV already, I pay for the electricity that runs the TV - when does this end? I think it's time I sold my TV.
Oct 25, 2012 7:28PM
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I don't mind it at all if they incorporate it within the show, but if they do that they need to REMOVE more of the commercials they do have.  A "30 minute" TV show is now down to 19 minutes and change.

Add 2 or 3 minutes of product placement, that is fine, but make the show 2 or 3 minutes longer.

The worst is when they air old episodes, like "Cheers", which used to be 24 minutes long, but they cut out 4 to 5 minutes so they can have more commercials.
Oct 25, 2012 8:51PM
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I opted to watch TV only 1 night a week.  Started working in the yard, and painting the house on other evenings until the daylight ran out.  AND I have lost 10 lbs - woo hoo
Oct 25, 2012 7:00PM
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Does anyone see the irony that the writer keeps urging you to click on the links to the sly commercials? I guess if you hadn't noticed them, here's your big chance!!
Oct 25, 2012 9:26PM
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DVR every show and FF thru commercials...never watch a commercial....if they put a product in a show, I could care less....they are 20 minutes of commercials for an hour show...that's take a few seconds to skip 1 minute for  every push of the button on the remote....
Oct 25, 2012 8:30PM
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We pay for the commercials when we purchase the product. I know. I worked for a top one-hundred ad agency. The advertising budget is built into the cost of the product. People don't realize this, and the companies don't want you to know the truth. These are all up-front costs. The reason stuff costs so much is that the consumer foots the bill for all this advertising. The cost for all advertising is built into the price of the product. You don't think that a company is going to carry the cost for their stupid goods and the services, to produce their lousy commericals, too. Do you? Is it too much to ask after we've paid for their lousy commerical to be left alone? What kind of messed up world do we live in?
Oct 25, 2012 10:51PM
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Advertising on TV is out of hand.  That is the reason I no longer watch TV.
Oct 25, 2012 10:42PM
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Is anyone else frustrated with going to a website, or to watch a video on you tube and being bombarded with advertisements? I go to a website and all these adds pop up and one just starts playing and I can't stop it.  I don't even watch TV anymore and I am glad..very tired of the adds.
Oct 25, 2012 7:06PM
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Time for congress to step in & inforce the add versus content time laws that are on the books already. I don't watch the commercials & won't buy the advertisers products.  The majority of commercials are stupid & promote destructive behavior and do not tell anyone about the actual product and it's true benefits.  Advertisers only mislead people. That is why they have fine print.
Oct 25, 2012 9:13PM
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Don't use the TV much anymore.  Can't stand the idiot commercials, radio is just as bad.  I stream my music without stupid commercials to interrupt my work.  Besides, my interests don't match what they're trying to peddle anyway.  And the dumb politicians are just as bad -- a couple motor mouths in action.  Gee, I wonder if they're selling those two as action dolls lately -- I need something to throw rocks at.  # # #
Oct 26, 2012 1:51AM
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the worst is listening to a baseball game. So after 3 outs you have to hear commercials...and a random "station ID break". Im good with that. But Every single thing that happens in the game is sponsored be something. "the 15th out is sponsored by GEico, 15 min..." BS!! I used to love listening to baseball games for the insight of the local announcers Now they even seem frustrated and rushed by the constant ads being forced upon all of us. We pay to enter the ballpark, we pay to eat, we pay for merchandise, we pay to watch, we pay to listen, and still not enough. I imagine next I will flush a toilet in a stadium or airport and a friggin commercial will come on.."this toilet runs as fresh as the Rockies...When you hear Flussssssshh...grab another Coors"...sad
Oct 25, 2012 9:15PM
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How do you define a process that makes you think a certain way and desire something you normally wouldn't want? Brainwashing or advertising?
Oct 25, 2012 9:54PM
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I like to watch the cure it all pharma products on one channel then switch to another where the lawyers have got a big lawsuite on one of them. Hey there isn't anything worth watching any how.
Oct 25, 2012 8:28PM
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  It seems that when some shows go on demand, the Networks will lock up the fast forward feature on some cable boxes, showing at the opening diclamer, that the fast forward feature has been disabled.  Just so they can play the ads.  Is this fair? I think the consumer could care less. Maybe mr. & mrs Consumer would rather stick with the regular programming. You decide.
Oct 26, 2012 12:13AM
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is ok I stopped watching tv before for over a year will do it again then how they advertise to me cause not watching the stupid shows anyway...
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