Tag Archives: TV

Productivity, Fulfillment and Status Anxiety

I read Seth Godin’s post today on all the things that someone can do that are better than TV. In the past I’ve also read Clay Shirky talking about the cognitive surplus – and indeed fully bought into it. It makes sense  to buy into a thought process that encourages productivity.

On reflection though, I’m not sure these mantras  are necessarily as healthy and fulfilling as the authors suggest them to be. For the majority of intelligent people, there is a desire to fulfil potential and somewhere along the line there has been a universal acknowledgement that productivity = fulfilment.

 There is no doubt that satisfaction comes from a sense of achievement. Ticking off a to-do list creates fulfilment in many instances, as does making the most of your passions.

 Is there a danger though that when we don’t feel like performing a variety of tasks based around our passions, that we feel a sense of failure? And are these thought processes actually creating a form of status anxiety amongst people who want to achieve and try their best – but simply can’t ‘produce’ 24/7?

 Watching TV isn’t bad. Switching off isn’t bad. Each of us is different and we need to find the balance between what we feel we should achieve and what our body and brain are telling us.

 Recently I found myself running around frantically. I wanted to see the best films, theatre, art, music before anyone else. I wanted to know everything about anything. And then I realised it wasn’t making me happy. I love going to Arsenal football club and watching the games – but, taking my lead from the likes of Clay Shirky, I began to feel that I should be conducting interviews with fans, writing blog posts, getting involved with supporters groups, creating banners for injured players – rather than just going for a few pints with friends after the game. And when I didn’t, I felt bad.

 So whilst productivity is important – I think it needs to be tempered with some reflection on what truly makes you happy. And if happy is sitting on the sofa watching crap TV – then go for that. Cognitive surplus or not cognitive surplus.

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Product Placement

So, the big news for the advertising industry this week is the expected decision that will allow commercial broadcasters to show sponsored products for the first time. If, as expected, the decision is passed, there will be another avenue for brands to promote their wares. The days of fictional products will disappear and pints of ‘Newton & Ridley’ in the Rovers Return will be replaced by Stella, Heineken or A.N.Other highest bidder.

...Soon to be Wetherspoons?

...Soon to be Wetherspoons?

In some ways, our soap operas will return to their routes. The name ‘soap opera’ stemming from the original serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate – Palmolive and Lever Brothers as sponsors and producers targeting weekly daytime slots when mostly housewives would be available to listen.

Not that that product placement in itself is a new phenomenon. We seem to know a lot about the spending habits of our favourite fictional screen stars. James Bond’s preferred watch is an Omega (the Rolex brand manager was obviously gazumped), while ¬ Spider-Man likes a drop of Dr Pepper. It’s difficult to forget the cringe worthy scene in I, Robot in which a character compliments Will Smith’s character’s shoes to which he replies “Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004.(the year of the film’s release).

Product Placement Overkill

Product Placement Overkill

I, Robot was ranked “the worst film for product placement” on a British site due to overt placements for Ovaltine, Audi, FedEx, Dos Equis, and JVC among others, all of them introduced within the first ten minutes of the film. A classic example of overkill if any was needed.

So, advertisers will need to tread carefully. Over the forthcoming months, no doubt there will be checklists developed as how to create a successful product placement. We know that relevancy will be the key. Execution will also be critical. Extreme close ups of freshly poured lager or glinting accessories are going to be a massive turn off. Logistically, it will also be incredibly interesting to see how these product placements will be managed. Will brand managers be on set to ensure that their product is shown in the perfect light? Will scripts be passed through the marketing departments of FMCG brands to check that the correct product cues are being communicated? The process promises to be a complex one.

The essence of advertising is often confused as an art form. Primarily by creative departments. The simple fact though, as communicated most succinctly by David Ogilvy is that advertising ‘has an obligation to sell’. The ultimate aim is to move product – not produce aesthetically outstanding work. Of course, the two frequently go hand in hand but they are not mutually exclusive. It is going to be the marrying of the commerciality of advertising with the simple aim of televisions shows – to entertain, that is going to create friction.

And commerciality is the sole reason behind this about turn. ITV has championed the lifting of the ban which it said would be “warmly welcomed by the commercial broadcasting industry and advertisers alike”. It has been suggested that it will earn an incremental £100m a year for broadcasters. I actually struggle to see how such a figure can be arrived at. Product placement does not mean marketing budgets will increase. The marketing pot is not dependant on mediums available. Instead, all it means is that other areas of the marketing budget will be cut and re-allocated. If I had to place a bet on where the budget for product placement might come from, I would say it would come from elsewhere in the TV budget. Product Placement is some instances could be a very cost effective way to get awareness on TV screens without spending money on ads with high production values.

My prediction is that the real level of earnings will be considerably lower. It is too early to tell now the full effects. Across the marketing world, clients will be asking agencies to look at the opportunities. Some will do it well and some less well but one thing is for certain – product placement will not be the saviour of the ailing television advertising industry.

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