As Seen On TV: Prominently Placed Products

Spring break is right around the corner which means a week with no classes and an ample amount of free time.  Per usual, this semester has been busy for many students and several have fallen behind on a very important thing: television shows.  Many television shows are returning from their mid-season winter break and will start this month.  You might be wondering, “how does television relate to IMC?”  There are a variety of different ways, but the one that I will discuss today is product placement.  According to, “product placement is defined as a practice in which manufacturers of goods or providers of a service gain exposure for their products by paying for them to be featured in movies and television programs.”  Have you ever wondered why your favorite actors drink their Diet Coke with the label facing the camera every time?  Well, there is a method to this madness.  Brands and companies often pay to be subtly placed into shows or movies to reach their desired target audience based off the demographics of the television show.


Source: NBC

NBC’s popular show Superstore returned last night and is full of “random” product placement.  Superstore, a comedy that is similar to The Office, is set in “Cloud 9” (analogous to a Walmart). Season one featured random products around the store that were fictional brands.  However, as the show increased in popularity, real/ big-name brands started to pay for product placement.  Brands today want to be represented in a positive way, and one possible reason as to why there was little to no product placement in the earlier seasons is because the show did not have much credibility.  Big companies do not want to advertise their products on a show that has little potential or will likely get cancelled, which is why it took time for reputable products to appear.  Today, you can see products like La Croix and Roku featured (not so) subtly on the show.

Source: NBC

However, due to the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, the current trend of waiting out to see how a show preforms the initial seasons is becoming increasingly difficult.  For example, in the Netflix original hit series, 13 Reasons Why, Beats headphones took a bit of a risk.  Beats most likely took elements such as analyzing the actors potential popularity, producer reputation, and overall storyline into consideration, however investing in product placement without seeing any ratings was undoubtedly a bold move.


Source: Netflix

At times, product placement can feel very forced if noticed, but as IMC students, it is important to recognize.  Analyzing 13 Reasons Why is interesting because the entire show has a relatively dark tone, yet even in the most serious moments, the bright red Beats logo is prominently centered.

Even though product placement may seem overdone at times, it is undoubtedly an effective way to advertise and a huge amount of money is invested in its practices.


-Alex Patton