‘L Word’ and Showtime to earn bank from new product placement

As if we weren’t commodified enough by beer-sponsored Pride Fests and gay energy drinks, ‘L Word’ creator Ilene Chaiken has convinced the commercial-free, pay channel Showtime to open the door to advertising.

‘L Word’ storylines may not be Shakespeare, but with writers forced to work with corporations to make sure their product is essential to the plot, I can’t help but think any redeeming qualities left in the already vapid show will be quickly forsaken.

From Advertising Age:

…for $300,000, consumer brands can buy an “integration package” that will either incorporate a brand into existing “L Word” storylines or allow the brand to work with the show’s writers to create customized storylines…

The “L Word,” [creator and writer Ilene Chaiken] notes, isn’t just about and for gays and lesbians; it’s about “affluent, avid consumers plugged into pop culture”

While viewers might actually notice if the program were being interrupted, slick product placement is sure to reach into our brains as mind-numbing subliminal advertising. Pretty soon you’ll think if you don’t buy Coke, you just aren’t gay enough.

I do understand that it takes money to make a show. I understand that, for free television, advertising revenue is essential. But to get Showtime flowing into your home you need to pony up some serious cash (I’ve paid a $200 cable bill before and it’s not pretty). When you slyly get around the incentive to pay that is a lack of commercials you are basically cheating the consumer.

Worse yet, integrated marketing means you are not always aware when you are being sold a product vs. being told a story. In a media-world continually dominated by complimentary copy the lines between news, entertainment and advertising are shockingly unclear.

2 comments to ‘L Word’ and Showtime to earn bank from new product placement

  • Adrienne80

    As a member of the gay community and a long time fan of The L Word, I am sort of torn on this one. On one hand, it is upsetting knowing that many major corporations target the gay community as an “untapped” resource to fatten their wallets, but on the other hand, there’s an immeasurable amount of targeted audiences that business cater to.

    Even though I agree that this advertising package is a total cop-out for marketing bucks, The L Word hasn’t been entirely sponsor-free. Perhaps they’ve just been a bit sneakier with their product placements. All of Season 1, and probably the other seasons as well, Shane was hardly seen without a Dos Equis XX beer in hand. Almost every character has been seen with this featured product at one time or another. And let us not forget Dana and Tanya’s relationship was oozing commercial name dropping from Subaru’s sponsorship to Absolute Vodka, a well-known tennis ball manufacturer, and so on. Granted this plot focused on endorsement deals for a character who was an athlete, but name dropping and fancy-schmancy products have always been integral to the uppity West Hollywood characters of The L Word.

    Personally, I think the show has gone down hill right after season 1, so maybe this commercially drenched product placement approach will be the final nail in the coffin.

  • qpdx

    Adrienne80 –

    I’m on the same page. And you’re right, product placement has always been a part of the show. I should have made it clear that this new deal just gives Chaiken complete control of it, as well as making the process a little bit more transparent.

    So I guess in that way it’s a good thing. The show’s creator is actually in charge and we are more aware it’s happening.

    I just get discouraged when this becomes so blatant and we don’t even want to talk about the negative aspects of our consumer culture. I guess the ‘L Word’ as always been ridiculously problematic in this arena. And I agree it went way downhill after season 1. But the recent episodes where the show was blatantly making fun of itself gave me hope.

    Alas, I think it was false hope.