Parks Associates Blog

Friday, January 19, 2007

Did you catch last night's episode of The Office?

This entry does have a point other than my enthusiasm for NBC's Thursday night programming, so stay with me!

Last night was the first time I really noticed the unabashed product placement that The Office is using in so many of its episodes. When Dwight (Rainn Wilson's character) winds up working for Staples after he quits the Dunder-Mifflin, this was just another way in which the series is leveraging some tie-ins to advertisers (HP computers and the iPod are two other products that have been prominently displayed). And, this was not Staples' first appearance on The Office. According to a Boston Globe article I found, the retailer's $69.99 MailMate junk-mail shredder was featured in a November 16 episode (and shame on me for not catching that earlier!). There have been some other obvious ad links in the show's history - the restaurant chains Chili's and Hooter's are locations in which the overworked and underpaid Dundler-Mifflin Scranton employees gather!

Digital technologies such as DVRs and the fragmentation of the television viewing audience are certainly trends that are concerning to advertisers. In our recently-released Digital Living 2006 Forecasts report, we estimated that year-end 2006 penetration of digital video recorders was about 20 million U.S. households. And, as we reported in an earlier report - The Changing Face of Advertising in the Digital Age - the major broadcast networks had contracted with measurement firms such as IAG Research to measure audience recall of TV commercials and product placements.

In less than a month, the major media will be reporting on the TV ads that ran in conjunction with "The Big Game" (not sure I can use that term that the NFL has trademarked to describe the "U.S. professional league tackle football championship sporting event"), and agog at the price that advertisers paid the network (in this year's case - CBS) to air them. Meanwhile, the advertising industry is shifting well beyond the 30- and 60-second spots that have characterized the space for so long. We're continuing to cover the evolution of advertising models as they change in the digital age. Reports such as Internet Video: Direct-to-Consumer Services and the upcoming Electronic Gaming in the Digital Home: Game Advertising are a couple of interesting research projects.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the The Office and try to do a better job of catching those placements! In the meantime, when are Jim and Pam finally going to end the suspense and start dating?


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