I watch Army Wives on Lifetime pretty regularly. The show follows the fictitious trials and triumphs of five women with connections to the military either through their own participation or via marriage. The acting isn’t exactly first rate, but I always look forward to the mindless hour I spend watching it on Sunday nights.
An episode two weeks ago nearly made me stop watching it forever. Here is what happened…
A prominent character’s car breaks down. She needs a new one. Her husband suggests a popular used car shopping website and then proceeds to walk through how to use it, step by step, with his two young children watching. The kids are laughing and they are all acting like shopping for a used car online is the best time they’ve ever had. The Dad says the name of the website at least 4 times.
It was so bad I had to turn off the TV. I can’t remember seeing a product placement in the past with such a blatant disregard for viewers. Though they tried to weave the car shopping site into the story, it felt forced and unnatural. It was just like a 50’s commercial where the family is sitting around the table at breakfast and one of the kids shouts, “Gee, Dad! This cereal is so delicious!”
The best product placements are noticeable without being pushy. If your product placements are terrible and you lose viewers, it will drive demand for your ad space down and everyone loses. Not to mention, I will probably make a point not to visit this car shopping website because the bit was so disruptive. Better to be more creative and not insult your audience’s intelligence.