This Man Wants To Turn Every Show You Love Into A Giant, Intrusive Advertisement


No matter which movie or television show you watch, product placement — the insertion of a brand into a film or show — is probably lurking somewhere. It’s almost always easy to spot. 

Ben Silverman wants to change that.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment intends to make advertising “inescapable” by bringing “major corporations into the writer’s room and putting brands directly into the shows they’re sponsoring.”

“I keep talking about how convergence is no longer just a technology term,” Silverman tells Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s the convergence of all business…It’s the convergence of fashion as media, of sports as business, of retail as distribution, of on-line as video, of politics as entertainment.”

So instead of integrating a brand with a show, e.g., having the American Idol judges sip from super-sized plastic Coca-Cola cups, advertisers will work closely with the writers to create a show in which the brand could be as tightly woven into the storyline as a supporting character.  Think of The Price is Right clashing with Desperate Housewives.

Advertisers and producers are keeping a close watch on Silverman’s progress. Some doubt his proposal will take off. “Anytime someone brings a great idea with value, you look at the idea first and figure out the deal later,” says Lauren Zalaznick, the NBC Universal president of women and lifestyle entertainment networks. “I don’t think you can create a sponsor-only relationship without that idea as the centrepiece.”

Last spring, Silverman announced Electus, his Internet-and-TV studio, had its first big deal: the sale of a multicultural “telenovela” series called Pedro & Maria to MTV. Procter & Gamble (PG) would be co-producing the series along with Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera and author Quiara Alegría Hudes.

It would unfold on TV but also spin off plots and characters into Web programs. Viewers would be
able to influence story lines through social media.

To find out more about Silverman’s plans to combine advertisers with content and the challenges he faces, head over to Bloomberg Businessweek.

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