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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Tags: FTM
Oct 26, 2012 2:26PM
Here's another sh!tty trick: when the commercials start, you press the mute button and wait to see your program come back on, right? Lately, they run a mini-ad for your program, showing the logo or a video of the star character, which prompts you to un-mute because you think your program is coming back on. But Nooooooooooo, it's another !@#$%^&*+ commercial. It's like some idiot shill following you wherever you go, whispering the name of a drug or a car or toilet paper. This is what makes people abandon a certain form of media: first it was TV, then people moved to cable, then they moved to the internet, and still the hucksters follow and we have no peace.
Oct 26, 2012 2:11PM

I actually do not mind product placement advertising.  Certainly beats the current system which adds a stench to commercial TV.  Number of spots interjected between program content is outrageous.

Counted 14 at one point.  Recall one of the arguments made to bolster the concept of paid cable TV was the elimination of advertisements.  What happened to that?!  Oh, yes, of course, G R E E D.

Can actually skim the channels for long periods of time without hitting any program content.  All

ads.  Hey, advertisers:  Most of us don't watch'em or pay any attention. 

Oct 26, 2012 1:42PM
Advertisers can try whatever they like to force their nonsense down my throat. I don't care because I DVR everything I want to watch or get it from Netflix, and even when there's product placement, I ignore it. I spend my money the way I want to spend it, NOT because some advertiser told me to.
Oct 26, 2012 1:36PM
Pathetic manipulation of the American public. There is being developed an optical sensor software program that will interface with your cable, satellite or DVR and will recognize corporate logos, icons and symbols from a pre-selected list and pass over them at the viewers choice.
Oct 26, 2012 12:59PM
 And why do we need all the commercials?  To pay for the ridiculous salaries that the "stars" of the programs earn.  $1 million per episode for some of these people?  Their egos are out of control..... 
Oct 26, 2012 12:47PM
It's all about them making money and I don't like the commercials but this is how they pay for the shows you watch. It will never end.
Oct 26, 2012 12:36PM

Got’ta admit, I also hate TV commercials - with a passion, BUT guess what - every now and then I do enjoy watching certain commercials. One of my favorite right now is that very funny “BMW Vet” commercial - the one where Mom and daughter are preparing to take the family dog to the vet. Seen it countless times and I still laugh.


Here, check it out.

Oct 26, 2012 12:17PM
I always have another channel ready for the push of the "last" button no matter what station I'm watching. Absolutly despise commercials for one single resaon, they are so stupid in nature and treat you like you are a 30 IQ.
Oct 26, 2012 12:15PM
Corporate greed has ruined TV along with the whole country!
Oct 26, 2012 12:10PM
This is why I use Netflix to watch TV shows. Its only $8 a month. WAY cheaper than any TV package. And if Netflix doesn't have it then iTunes is sure to have it and I don't mind paying $30 for an entire season of my favorite show. Because to watch that show on TV would take several months of weekly shows with commercials, a break in the winter, and TV bills which add up to over $400 in that time frame.
I "DO" read books. And my reading has gone back to college level. I feel young again. And I don't miss listening to Ebonic's on the news anymore.
Oct 26, 2012 11:57AM

If done well and creatively, and limited, I'm not to concerned about it and doesn't bother me. However, if it poorly done and blatently obvious that they are trying to fit this in then I have a problem. I see it this way, if you are going to do it, at least work with the show context and try but also don't get greedy with number of placements and time they take, either.

I also agree with another comment about reducing the traditional commercial time. If they are insert it in the show then the inbetween time needs to be reduced (should be regardless).

As a whole I'm sick of the increasing commercials and the increasing lack of decent programming. I do feel unless something changes the networks are going to be in for a rude awakening when people finally do say enough is enough.

I think its time

Oct 26, 2012 11:52AM

I thought we paid for cable to avoid annoying commercials. Seems like cable is the worst offender. Ever seen those ads that take up half the screen DURING a show or movie? Talk about obnoxious! And everyone has some kind of guide or menu function--so why beat me in the head with a 1 minute promo of the show that will be on in 30 seconds?

Every time there is an interesting plot-point, a visual cue, or even just a hot girl--its immediately obscured by a huge banner add or insert ad that completely drowns out the show you're trying to watch. How long before they just zap commercials into our heads without permiossion?

You don't know Jack about me watching tv ads! I got rid of my TV almost 6 years ago now, HA Ha! Beat that!! Was sick of commercials and political ****ting lies. So I don't have to see car ads, Obumma! Sick game shows or criminals getting away with murder! I can watch what I want when I want! And you can't do **** about it! Someone tried to give me a wide screen tv and I said NO Thanks! Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Oct 26, 2012 10:34AM

who watches commercials anymore....

i record everything....and watch it the next night....

i can watch 4 hrs of shows in 3 hrs....

each 1/2 hr "sitcom" is about 20 mns....

each 1 hr show is about 40 - 45 mns....

each 2 hr movie on cable (usa, lifetime, etc) is about 1.5 hrs...

i haven't watches a show "live" in years even before i got my dvr....i still recorded everything on vcr....

the only thing i watch live is racing and everytime they go to commercial break i switch to something i recorded (usually a movie) in which for a 3-4 race, i can get a movie each commercial break is 2.5-3 mns...


but more to the point...NO ONE is forcing you to watch the commercials......

Oct 26, 2012 10:25AM
If you stop watching the shows that do this they will have to stop doing it across the board.  The only way to get to a TV show is to hurt their ratings.  But it's like anything else, there are enough people who don't care.  Just like there are a certain amount of people willing to pay $20 to see a movie in the theater.  If everyone stopped going, they'd have to drop their prices, but it will never happen.  People get it when it comes to gasoline for some reason.
Oct 26, 2012 10:07AM
I don't mind ads being on tv if they are on the free channels, but I'm paying for cable so why are there ads on it?
Oct 26, 2012 10:04AM
"Television" doesn't seem to keep my attention, so I rarely "EVER" watch it.....Sometimes I'll watch a movie  or nothing at all majority of the time....And it doesn't even bother me....So there is a way around all their BS.....
Oct 26, 2012 9:49AM
i stream netflix to watch existing TV shows and movies with zero commercials.  best $9 a month i ever spent
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