Product Placement, Authenticity and 90210 – Dr. Pepper Goes Over the Top
First, I have to admit I watched the new “Beverly Hills 90201” last night on the CW. Not a huge fan of the show, but I’m not against it either. 90210 and “Melrose Place” were on constant re-run rotation for me and the people I lived with at Ithaca College. In fact, a former roommate who was a physical therapy major chided me about Melrose because “there weren’t any good shows about physical therapists.” He’s right. Note to budding advertising/PR majors: The world of communications isn’t all sex and drugs. Sometimes it’s snowboarding too (we kid).
This brings us to last evening’s (4/15) 90210, Dr. Pepper and my friend Justin’s hatred of the lack of authenticity in product placement. Just so you know, Justin does not work in marketing in any way, shape or form. He’s a computer programmer, a mediocre surfer, likes a good time but does not associate with people on my side of the fence (with the exception of a few characters that’ll remain nameless). More on Justin in a bit.
As noted already by the Stephanie Lysaght in her piece on the LA Time’s Show Tracker, the Dr. Pepper placements were over the top. I’m not sure when brands will understand this, but more isn’t always more. The blog world has seemingly lit up with consumers calling out the infamous “cooler shot,” where Dixon and Annie reach back for a drink and snack, to reveal a cooler of nicely placed Dr. Peppers sitting ON TOP of the ice in the cooler. Not even buried. I wish I could find a shot of the cooler, it was pretty ridiculous.
(pic courtesy of LAist.com)
We’ve blogged about product placement before and just wish Dr. Pepper and others could get it right when it comes to product placement and authentic set design. Marketers should realize that if they’re going to push to incorporate products into a show, they should try to do it as seemlessly as possible.
Now back to Justin.
Justin lamented to me once that characters just don’t talk about products the way real people do. When I asked him how so, this was his paraphrased response:
“No one believes when a character says, ‘Give me a Bud Light, it’s really refreshing,’ at a bar. Why don’t they just say ‘What is this shit? Just give me a Bud Light?'”
Now of course, that language isn’t suitable for prime time, but it’s easy to see the correlation.
Dr. Pepper isn’t the only brand that misses the mark. Next week (or later…) we’ll highlight a campaign by the National Guard that features SPC Ryan McDonald. At BBPR, we truly appreciate everything Ryan and the rest of the brave men and women in our armed forces do for our country, but when it comes to this campaign and the images they ran in the snowboard media, the Guard just missed the mark in terms of authenticity.