Friday, December 8, 2006

Everything Old is New Again

There's been a lot written recently about how ads are being integrated into programming on television, films and even in books. A flurry of media accompanied Phillips' sole sponsorship of 60 Minutes earlier this fall. Recently, single sponsors have presented specials on CNN.

What's really interesting about this "break through" is that it's not new at all. In the Golden Age of Television (I'm not sure if it was either Golden or an Age, but that's a rant for another day) shows were routinely presented by a single sponsor. Camel Cigarettes used to present the news ala the Camel News Caravan. Not only did John Cameron Swayze smoke while delivering the day's news, there was a placard on his desk. Although I gather from this picture, Plymouth got in on the act for a while. Similarly, Texaco was the name sponsor of Milton Berle's show, a show whose ratings the networks can only dream about. The Texaco singers were an integral part of that show. How about soap operas? They were called soap operas because they were sponsored by soap powder companies. But the biggest kick goes back to the earliest days of radio. Broadcast radio was originally founded as a media to air ads. The music was just to fill the dead air in between the ads.... Go figure.

Bond, James Bond

Just saw Casino Royale, a great film and a return to the true Bond genre. The product placement was pretty seamless. OK, a few too many shots of a Sony Vaio laptop, but generally pretty good. There was one exception, a major clunker, the over the top plug for the Omega watch. As I recall, there's close up or two of the watch. But the key moment comes when the woman of James life admires his timepiece and asks, "Is it a Rolex?" The ever debonair Bond replies, "No, it's an Omega." Well, OK then.