Product Placement

I’ve been reading Peggy Phillips blog for what seems like years. She’s always entertaining, always relevant and always shoots from the hip. I’m sure she doesn’t blog everything that’s on her mind or she wouldn’t still be a news director, but she sure seems more candid than what I would expect her bosses would like.

Peggy brings up a good point in this morning’s blog about free gifts and product placement. The good folks at Blue Bell ice cream (I didn’t get any free scoops for saying this) have a winner on their hands. They know if they give away a few dozen barrels of ice cream to a newsroom of people, someone will mention their ice cream on the news. Several times through the years they even get their ice cream and all of the smiling newsie faces eating it featured on one or two or three or four news broadcasts.

They spend, what, a few hundred dollars for the free cream and in return get a few thousand dollars worth of ad time? What’s more the time is even more valuable because it’s from credible news people mentioning their product (and how it’s soooo good) not in a commercial but IN THE ACTUAL NEWS! You literally can’t buy that kind of publicity.

A few years ago (at another tv station) the folks at Blue Bell brought us tubs and tubs of the ice cream. My co-anchor at the time read a script written by a producer who put a :30 vo in the news as a kicker. All of the news personalities were there eating and smiling and laughing and having the time of their lives. The script didn’t mention the ice cream by brand, but in the chit-chat time between the story and “our last look at weather” she mentioned “Blue Bell is the best ice cream”. The news director called her in on that and told her to never mention the name of a product that was given to us. But what did he expect? It shouldn’t have been in the newscast to begin with! And in my co-anchor’s defense, it was natural for her to mention how good the ice cream was when we were yucking it up on air transitioning to weather. “that blue bell ice cream makes me think of summer, and Joe…when are we going to see some warmer temperatures”.

As long as the folks at Blue Bell keep getting such a great return for those few tubs of ice cream, they’ll keep backing the truck up to the door. It’s just amazing to me that some tv stations can’t see what they’re doing.

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