90210’s product placement horrors

TV product placement in its various incarnations is something that I love to keep track of. We see it with the greatest presence (and price tag) on the silver screen, but we are starting to see it more and more on the small screen too – especially in American shows targeted at a youth audience. Unfortunately, the more common it becomes, the less sophisticated the methods seem to be.

Granted, the US have very different rules on brand presence, but with the recent return of 90210 to E4, I needed to share some screen grabs of a couple of season 1 episodes where the product placement is nothing short of paid-for full-screen advertising (and thus I have tagged this post appropriately).

I love the show and I don’t usually find this kind of over-exposure offensive as such, but 90210’s integration of brand into scene is so unsubtle that it is starting to become intrusive even for me. The two prime examples (taken from the previous, first, season) are Dr.Pepper and T-Mobile’s Sidekick mobile phone.

So you could watch the clips in the context of the show, I had found the clips on YouTube, but as is increasingly the way these things go, the clips in question have been removed by a CBS copyright claims. A shame, but if you are studying product placement methods (and the clangers therein) it is almost worth buying season 1 just to spot them (I’m sure you will find more).

Dr. Pepper makes its first appearance behind the bar (and front of shot ON the bar too)...
...and gets prime placement for the close-up
It even (bizarrely) gets wall placement in the cafe to cover the reverse camera angle and (even more bizarrely) gets a reversed placement on the bar in the foreground
Naomi got so over-excited at receiving a message on her T-Mobile Sidekick that she had to taunt Annie with it...
...and the producers felt the need for the obligatory close-up

Can anyone NOT read the vertical T-Mobile branding? Well fear not, if you are blind, Naomi gives it a verbal mention too.

All that said, while I still won’t touch Dr.Pepper because it remains vile-tasting no matter how much screen time Hollywood gives it, I do now quite want a Sidekick. And I did write this blog post about it. Go figure. Maybe we can learn from the Americans yet.


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