It's been a while since I've had anything to post, which makes me antsy. While I will have things to post this weekend, mainly reviews from the chocolate show, I still feel the need to post this morning, about something that's been on my mind all night. Well, during the parts that I was awake. I'm a chronic insomniac, so there were a few.
I'm a big fan of a show on NBC called The Office. Part of the reason I like it is because it's funny, but unlike other shows, there's no laugh track to help you know when to laugh. You have to figure it out yourself. I also like it because it reminds me of so many offices that I have worked in, and even of the office that I work in now. Because of that, it tends to get uncomfortable at times, so much so that I even have a hard time looking at the picture on occassion. It's just a little too close to reality.
Last night, once of the characters was asked to shred a box of papers from another office branch that had just closed. He was pretty excited about it. He went on about how cool the shredder was. "Look! It can even shred a CD! It can even shred a credit card! Uh oh..." I was sitting there thinking it would choke on the CD, but it didn't. It ripped right through that thing. I was caught up in his excitement, mostly laughing at it. A few minutes later, they cut to a commercial break, which started with an ad from Staples. Halfway through the ad they showed a shredder, and I said to my wife, "hey look, it's the same shredder as Kevin had." My wife replied, "yeah, I saw it at Staples the other day. It said, 'as seen on The Office' next to it." And then it hit me. They had just pulled the most cunning product placement I had seen in a long time. I was already impressed with Kevin's shredder, because it could shred a CD. My own shredder at home stopped working a couple of months ago when I tried to feed it ten pages at once. And look! Staples has that same shredder! It wouldn't die if I fed it ten pages at once.
This morning, I woke up early. I do that a lot. While I was laying there trying to convince my brain to go to sleep, something occurred to me. On last week's episode of The Office, the boss of the other office had left for a job at Staples. And some episodes before that, a group of characters on the show had been at a paper convention, and one of them had set up a deal with a particular paper company who's products had previously been available exclusively to Staples. When they do things like that, I often idly wonder if they just used Staples because it's a highly recognizable name, and if Staples was going to get mad at them for not asking permission first.
Suddenly with the shredder, I realized why they had been mentioning Staples so much on The Office. Product placement. It's subtle. It's almost subliminal. And I would even go far as to say it's effective. I still want that shredder. I don't know that I'm that much more likely to go to Staples in general, though. I have an Office Max and an Office Depot right down the street from me, and I still generally drive the extra distance to Staples anyway.
It didn't stop there. I never had the chance previously to watch 30 Rock, because it aired on Tuesdays. I'd always been curious, because I liked Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. They've just 30 Rock it to Thursdays, so we thought we'd give it a shot. The basis of the episode was product placement. Everyone was mad that the big boss wanted them to write a comedy sketch with product placement in it. They then proceeded to liberally and obviously endorse Snapple, much the same way we saw in Wayne's World. "I can't believe you're making us write a product placement sketch, but we sure do love this Snapple!" On a side note, I liked the episode. I'm only a little bummed that 30 Rock won't be airing immediately after The Office, and that I'll have to find something else to occupy my time while Scrubs is on.
Anyway, that episode of 30 Rock brought to mind what I frequently think about when I see product placement like that. I tend to think that a lot of people get pretty unhappy when they see that happening. It don't mind so much. It fascinates me. We've been seeing it in movies for years, so it was only a matter of time before we got to see this level on TV.
Well, I'd love to chat, but I'm running out of pens and I'm pretty thirsty. I'm going to head on over to Staples, and maybe pick up a Snapple on the way. I'll see you all later, after the chocolate show.
(This article not paid for by or affiliated in any way with Staples, Snapple, NBC or their affiliates, or the Utah Chocolate Show.)