Waxy.org reports on a peculiar and blatant product placement in a recent episode of that Beverly Hills: 90210 for the new century, The OC. If you watch this video clip (AVI), you’ll see one character awkwardly say to another
“I a9.com’d him last night”. A9.com, if you’re wondering, is Amazon’s search engine offering. More from Waxy:
Even though this appeared to be a clear example of paid product placement, A9.com’s CEO denies that it was paid for or that they knew anything about it. This seems very unlikely, especially considering A9’s somewhat-obscure status in the non-geek world, the timing of the episode with recent publicity, and The O.C.’s use of the full domain name instead of simply “A9.” (Has anybody ever used/heard the term “A9.com’d” before?)
There’s no that placement was paid for. In addition to the use of the full ‘a9.com’, a writer would select the far more common ‘googled’ if he’d had a choice.
The CEO’s quote in noteworthy. He says “This placement was not paid for by A9.com or Amazon.com”. That, of course, suggests that it may have been paid for by somebody else.
I’m hardly morally opposed to product placement in soap operas–it’s been happening for years. However, I do think shows (and films and musicians, etc) should be transparent about those placements. I should be able to go to the episode’s credits or the show’s website and determine what companies advertised in each episode. I think this would increase the product’s visibility–appealing to the show’s producers and advertisers–and help the viewers understand what is and is not paid-for content.
On a related note, check out the prominent Apple computer in tomorrow’s Doonesbury.