Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cut the Shirt

So at the end of Friday's Rachel Maddow Show broadcast, guest anchor Ana Marie Cox revealed the teeshirt she'd been wearing underneath her jacket for the whole broadcast: an "I'm ready for Teddy" tee, in what she called a tribute to the late senator. A supposedly vintage campaign shirt (though Kennedy didn't run in '76, so if it is indeed vintage, it'd have to have been some sort of "draft Teddy movement. But what do I know; I was six at the time.)

So what do I see on Facebook today? An ad for Retrocampaigns.com, a site that sells "vintage" campaign tees to political-junkie hipsters. The ad featured the same "Ready for Teddy" design that Cox wore.

Now, this could simply be a case of a T-shirt biz striking when the iron is hot, and taking advantage of the national exposure they lucked into. There's a lot of room for benefit of the doubt.

At the same time, this could have been coordinated between RetroCampaigns and MSNBC or Cox herself. The corporate media term for this is "synergy." What everyone else calls it is "product placement," or "putting commercials right in the middle of the show I'm trying to watch." And as Kathy discovers whenever I see that damn Subaru (or deodorant) on Eureka, I find it incredibly annoying. (Eureka does it shamelessly; they had an entire plotline devoted to that friggin' car.)

Look, Ana; I'm sold on the liberalism. And Ted Kennedy did great things for America. I'm with ya 100 percent there. Just... don't try to sell me a T-shirt too, 'kay?



ktbuffy said...

I'm with you on hating the annoyingly blatant product placement that goes on lately. Eureka is one of the worst, but I recall yelling at the tv when Claire on Heroes shrieked "The New Rogue!" And I'm noticing it on Leverage as well -- again, another car company.

Rob S. said...

Oh, yeah... I remember that on Heroes. Just before I stopped watching, IIRC.

ABC will apparently be putting a new twist on it for Desperate Housewives this season -- there's a series of commercials that will be taking place on Wisteria Lane, and the main characters of the commercials will be appearing as background characters on the show itself.

Rob said...

Heroes did it blatantly in the first season - remember Hiro and Ando always talking about the Versa? Aka the Nissan Versa?

Rob S. said...

Oh, right! I'd forgotten all about that!

There are some shows that do it fairly well. 30 Rock had Liz and Jack talk about a certain cellphone for a few seconds, and then Liz turned directly to the camera and said "Can we have our money now?" Not everyone has the luxury of treating it as silly as they do, though.

And game shows, of course, have been doing it since the dawn of TV, and probably before. (Turtle Wax, anyone?) Reality shows have just followed in their footsteps.

Shows like Eureka and Heroes don't really *do* subtlety, even in the parts of the show that aren't marketed, so when they're selling something, you *really* know it.