Here Are Some Of TV's Most Successful Product Placements

In honour of Oreo’s 100th birthday, the cookie will guest star on tonight’s episode of Modern Familyreports AdAge. The staff of the ABC hit sitcom has written a scene that involves Luke Dunphy eating the cookie in an unusually interesting way.

From Seinfeld to The Office, here are some of TV’s best product integrations>>
Oreo began talking to ABC about this placement last spring. (The brand has also been running a series of promos that feature the Modern Family characters celebrating their inner child, which is the theme of Oreo’s birthday campaign).

“We chose to partner with the program because it brings to life fun moments of family connection in a humorous and entertaining way,” said Kraft spokesman, Basil T. Maglaris, to AdAge. 

Co-creator Steven Levitan told AdAge in a January interview that the show turns down 90 per cent of product placement requests. This season the show has already incorporated Toyota, Audi, and Target into episodes despite trying to limit deals like these to one to three a season.

Of course, product placement in television is nothing new. In the early days of radio and television, shows were often underwritten by companies like Proctor & Gamble; this is also why they were called soap operas.

Brands realised early on that they could benefit from their products being integrated into plot lines and associated with popular shows; production companies understood that these deals meant both equating themselves with valuable brands and, in most cases, money.

Today, as advertisers worry about fragmented audiences and the DVR making their commercials obsolete, more brands are trying to broker deals with popular shows. 

The Love Boat: Princess Cruises

The Love Boat was set aboard the Pacific Princess, part of the Princess Cruise Lines. Although the show ran from 1977 to 1986, this product placement was so valuable that until 2002 the cruise line was still using the slogan, 'It's more than a cruise, it's the Love Boat.'.

Knight Rider: Pontiac Trans Am

Taking product placement to another level, Knight Rider starred David Hasselhoff and his talking Pontiac Trans Am, KITT. General Motors gave the show's makers models of the then-new 1982 Trans Am, which was decked out as KITT. With that one show, the Trans Am became one of the most desirable cars of the early 1980s.

Seinfeld: Junior Mints

Friends: Oreo and Pottery Barn

Community: KFC

In 2010, NBC's Community aired an episode that prominently featured KFC. The episode involved the cast going in to a space-launch simulator run by a Colonel Sanders avatar and included a number of references to KFC's cultural influence. At one point, a character even talks about handing out KFC sandwiches to reporters, but decides not to after recognising the press might think the sandwiches were product placement.

According to AdAge, much of this was thought up by the show's writers and were going to be done for free. But once NBC saw the content of the script, they approached KFC to work out a larger, paid deal.

Sex and the City: Magnolia Bakery, Manolo Blahnik, and Absolut

Sex and the City may have more product placement than any other scripted show. Carrie Bradshaw made Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo household names. Before Carrie Bradshaw ate a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery, there was one store; today Magnolia has six locations in two countries, and are rapidly expanding.

But the biggest it of product placement on the popular HBO show was a fictional ad for Absolut Vodka featuring the character Smith Jarrod. In the episode, the ad (which was created by Absolut's agency TBWA) is a huge success and results in the creation of a new cocktail called 'Absolut Hunk.'

Life imitated art, in this case, as the drink became popular in bars across Manhattan and the fictional ad became a real campaign for Absolut (much to the chagrin of the actor playing Smith Jarrod who ultimately sued Absolut).

The Office: Staples

On The Office, Staples is Dunder-Mifflin's biggest competitor, the company that is threatening to put the paper company out of business. That is no coincidence. Staples is actually one of the shows biggest product placement deals.

Not only is the brand mentioned in most episodes during the first few seasons, but their products - like CDs and fax paper - decorate the set. One episode even features a Staples shredder, as Kevin shows the power of the shredder to make a salad.

The brand clearly enjoys its affiliation with the show. When Dwight quits his job at Staples to go back to Dunder Mifflin, Staples released this memo.

The Office also has product placement deals with Cisco, Hewlett Packard, and Call of Duty.

30 Rock: McFlurry, Verizon, Cisco,and Outback Steakhouse

Mad Men: London Fog, Heineken, and every account Don Draper works on

Mad Men centres around an ad agency, so it is no surprise that brand names get dropped all the time. But like Tina Fey, Matthew Weiner (the creator of the show) will not confirm whether or not the brands featured are paid placement.

Some brands, like Cadillac, insists placements was free.

Heineken, on the other hand, has been open about the fact that they paid to be extensively incorporated into the show. In one episode, the beer plays a significant role at a dinner party thrown by Betty Draper for her husband's colleagues.

In the opening episode of season three, London Fog is featured as a client of Sterling Cooper. With the management at odds about the direction of the brand, Don Draper has to dream up a new campaign. This was obviously an engineered campaign, as Christina Hendricks (who plays Joan Holloway) was featured in their real ads at the same time.

Modern Family: iPad

Many of the advertisers approaching Modern Family were probably inspired to do so after seeing the writers create an episode that revolved completely around the iPad. In the episode, Phil Dunphy wants nothing more than an Apple iPad for his birthday. For 30 minutes viewers watch the family trying to get the hot product, standing in Apple Store lines, and singing the praises of the iPad.

Modern Family did not receive any money for this episode.

Big Bang Theory: Purell

Sheldon using Purell after he puts a live snake in a desk drawer was the most remembered brand integration of 2011.

However, Bill Prady, co-creator of the show, tweeted, 'I'm not aware of #bigbangtheory doing any paid product placement. We use real brand names so dialogue doesn't sound fake.'

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