Automotive TV Programming

Audi gets Modern -- ABC/Richard Foreman

What the heck! I thought I was watching television programs, however, as of late, I’ve been mistaken. What I thought were TV shows actually were full-sized car commercials.  And this practice is driving me crazy!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve learned about Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium by watching CBS’ “The Amazing Race.” I saw works of art created from Fiat 500 parts on Bravo TV’s “Work of Art.” I watched Bravo’s “Top Chef: Texas” contestants get to know each other better on a car trip in Toyota Siennas and on ABC’s “Modern Family,” the Audi A8 is the car that patriarch, Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) drives.

Are car manufacturers getting smarter about advertising and/or television companies getting dumber about integrated content?

My answer to that question is car makers and TV companies both win in this new form of content integration. Consumers, as usual, are on the losing end.

Ford and "The Amazing Race" Segment of Fun

Do you think that those of us who watched Ford’s Mustang challenge on “The Amazing Race,” didn’t for one minute not realize what a great commercial that was? I have to admit it was an entertaining segment and it was interesting to see this exclusive test track…but the whole time I watched it I knew it was also a commercial message. A very clever and I suppose an expensive one too. Here’s a clip of it so you can see for yourself.

Two years ago the state of the American Auto Industry was dire. Now, it appears that the Industy has full wallets again and is rebounding nicely, so much so that they now own the TV airwaves! Talk about a 360 degree flip. It’s the media companies now who can’t bring in the dough that they used to due to new distribution platforms. They now NEED advertisers like car manufacturers to help them pay their bills.

Will it pay off? I guess the proof is at the dealerships.  Are more people buying Audi’s because they want the car Jay drives? Are people buying Fiat’s because they liked the car parts in “Work of Art?”

At the end of the day, it is all about eyeballs. And by a Toyota Sienna being seen on “Top Chef” episode is probably a larger audience that would see a regular commercial that gets played over and over and over that our minds just tune them out. For me personally, I am over that Prius holiday commerical-I’ve seen it too many times for my own good and I’m a Prius driver.

At the end of the day – WE’RE ON TO YOU TV COMPANIES AND CAR MAKERS! Let’s hope that this trend doesn’t continue for it will wreck great shows like BBC’s “Top Gear,” a true car show. I mean, after a while, they all will start to look the same.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve noticed the uptick in TV car integration and what you think about it all.

Off to watch more Car TV Programming. How about you?

Cindy

Is the Dancing with the Stars Wardrobe Getting Too Risque?

I know this post is going to upset a few of the men out there and some readers may label me a prude. But, I’m taking a risk and saying it. Don’t you think that some of women’s dance costumes on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” are a bit too risque for prime time viewing? I do.

“SWEET FANCY MOSES”

As I watched the season opener of “Dancing with the Stars” last Monday night, I noticed a few of the women’s costumes were a bit more revealing than usual.  Not all of the costumes were that way, most were fine and age appropriate for the respective dancer.  But, when I saw what they had Chelsie Hightower dressed in….the only response I had was what George and Jerry exclaimed when they watched Elaine’s wacky dance in the Seinfeld episode “The Little Kicks”.Sweet Fancy Moses! Ms. Hightower’s outfit was barely a dress and was probably made out of less than a half-a-yard of shimmery fabric! Take a look. The only spot of fabric on her backside was a 12 inch area of cloth covering her bootie. To view this dress in action click on video link: Dancing With The Stars Relive the Opener

Sweet Fancy Moses - Chelsie's Dress is Short and Missing its Back Side

Yes, Ms. Hightower is beautiful and physically fit and can wear that costume well. But, that’s not the point. I mean – isn’t the show about dancing and not about selling something else. If I was a male fan of the show, I think one of the reasons I would enjoy watching it is to see the scantily clad women! Is this really necessary ABC?

INAPPROPRIATE OR APPROPRIATE?

I know that women dress in barely there bikinis when at the beach or pool. I also am aware of some of the outfits that gals wear to the gym look like underwear. The public is exposed to revealing clothing all the time and there’s no way to control it. But, ABC is a corporation that can control its decency. I mean if a someone wears a logo on clothing that is not a sponsor of the show, then we see black duct tape put over that logo. And sometimes, low cleavage is blurred in live programming…but, on this show I sometimes wonder about the outfits.

Season 11 contestant Audrina Partridge Did In Fact Wear A Bikini on the Show

Well, I guess that statement isn’t 100 percent true. I don’t wonder about the outfits. I know perfectly well about how they cast the show.  They cast the “older” favorites, the models, the younger sensations, the athletes and yes, handsome hunks too.  They cast every demo. And to be fair, they do at times dress the young, fit gals in less revealing wardrobes, especially when they perform dances like the waltz.

I’d love to hear what you think? Your turn to discuss the wardrobe on Dancing with the Stars. Bring on the conversation.

 

 

 

 

TAKING THE BAD ALONG WITH THE PR GOOD

James Franco and Anne Hathaway were hosts of the lowly-rated 2011 Oscars Telecast- Ouch!

If you are a producer, developer, planner, organizer, politician, celebrity, news maker, designer, company president etc. etc. – here’s something you always should remember and expect – not everyone is going to like you or your product or project. Therefore, always expect bad reviews along with the good. As long as you continue to put yourself or your brand out there…you will have critics. There’s nothing you can do about it. And if you take them in good stride, these reviews can turn out to be positive experiences.

Case in point…Sunday’s 83rd Academy Awards.

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS BAD PR?

Not only was this event lowly-rated, it was critically panned. And brutally so. Here’s one about host James Franco. And another review from Ken Gruberman of The Huffington Post . Gruberman’s review covers many areas where the show fell short. In fact, it’s is a comprehensive break down of the show’s break downs.

So as a PR professional, should you hide these negative reviews from the show’s producers? My answer is a resounding “No.”

When I have been in this similar position as the head of the PR department for a live awards event broadcast, I have included every review (no matter its tone) into the press clipping package.  Although, I have always included them, however, it doesn’t mean that they continued to remain. My efforts have been overruled numerous times by higher ups, who were nervous that they would receive some form of punishment for producing a show that generated sharp criticisms. Hence, they removed all negative reviews from the press clipping package.*

(*Press departments compile online reports of every press mention of a product, show or executive. These are often called press bundles and they are the first things that are prepared each day.)

This censorship happens more than you can ever imagine. Executives pretend that no one else sees the negative reviews if they don’t include them in the mass email. Yeah right.  Ever heard of Google Alerts…they’ll find them for you.

As of this writing, Google has informed me that there have been over 6,400 posts made about the 2011 Oscars. And unfortunately, the majority of those are brutally honest about co-host James Franco’s lethargic performance and the fact that a Bob Hope hologram was the hit of the evening. I must say it was a dreadful telecast.

MUCH A DO ABOUT NOTHING

The reason for this post is to point out that these reviews can be thought of as focus groups.  If a producer has an open mind, he could use this information to improve upon next year’s broadcast.  I can guarantee you James Franco learned the lesson of a lifetime from these awful reviews and if he ever hosts anything again, he will be much better.

I can guarantee you that ABC and the Oscars will cast someone more experienced to host the event next year.  I bet next year’s show will have more attention to the details – that is if someone in charge reads through the lines of the reviews.

YES MEN

But, that’s the main problem in Hollywood. The industry is used to the practice of only saying good things about people, places and projects.  It’s an epidemic.  Why? They know its because the truth hurts. Bad reviews may sting for a moment, but they can be life-altering and changing events. They cause improvement and growth.

So at the end of the day…bad reviews do indeed end up being good for you.

 

 

TV That Makes A Difference-Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

A Life-Saving TV Show- Fridays at 9 PM on ABC

I caught the first episode of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” by accident.  I am not a foodie nor a cook nor a food lover.  I’m food neutral I guess. But, this program (to use a word Jamie uses) Literally has changed my life.  I kid you not.

When the 2009-10 TV season started last September, I was not a fan. In fact, I didn’t jump on any new TV bandwagon, except ABC’s “Modern Family.” I found the TV fare to be blah and tasteless at the start-but, that all changed mid-season.  I now religiously watch “Life Unexpected,” “Undercover Boss,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Parenthood” and now “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.”

Among all the shows on TV, this definitely is one that EVERYONE should watch for Jamie’s passionate about extending our lives as long as possible.  He knows he can do that, because it’s what we put in our mouth that often leads to sickness and sadly, death.

Now, I’ve always watched my weight and have been athletic.  And diets have been a way of life forever it seems.  However, despite my need to stay at a certain weight because I could not afford new larger sized clothes, I’m now buying food that makes me more healthy.

I thought nothing of buying frozen diet dinners and anything microwavable to eat in the past, especially since I cook for one.  But, after watching his show, he’s educated me on the proper foods to buy, eat and serve.  I have to applaud Jamie – a Brit, who wants us Americans to have the healthiest lives possible. He is even more concerned about what we serve in our school’s cafeterias than our own administrators.  Thank goodness Ryan Seacrest Productions produced this gem of a series.

I have totally changed what I have in my house.  Gone are the processed dinners and in are fresh produce, fresh fruit and healthy snacks.  I still do have a sweet tooth and will have cookies from time to time…but, that’s it.  Why, you may ask?

From regularly watching this show, I have seen what Chicken Nuggets actually are and I don’t like it.  I literally wanted to throw up when Jamie prepared them right before our eyes (episode 102).  They are made from the leftovers of a chicken…the carcass is pureed in a food processor and that gunk that is left becomes the nuggets.  And that was enough for me.

But, the town he’s trying to save has battled him back. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Jamie at all.  I was an early adopter, but others had to hear daughters talk about losing their fathers too early in their lives due to obesity.  Or hear a young high schooler who has to change her way of eating or she could be dead in less than seven years.  Or how about the sixth grader who is close to becoming a diabetic because he’s eaten french fries every day of his life. Or better yet, seeing the double-wide casket that some obese people must be buried in.  He is showing us the realities and severity of this problem – a problem that we can control with self-control. It’s that easy, but it is up to us.

This is great TV.  This is content that changes lives.  Won’t you join me and start to eat healthier?

Have you seen his show and if so, has it changed you?  If you haven’t seen any episodes…you can view them by clicking here, thanks to ABC.com.

Off to grab a carrot,

Cindy

Brilliant Organic Marketing-Ipad and ABC’s “Modern Family”

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Ipad + Modern Family = Brilliance

Last Wednesday’s “Modern Family” episode on ABC was absolutely brilliant for its organic insertion of the soon-to-be-released Apple iPad. Even though this topic has been covered by the major publications, I too, as an entertainment marketer had to tip my hat to this outstanding product placement.

For those of you whom were not one of the 9.5 million viewers who saw this episode on March 31, basically, the geeky, clumsy, hilarious dad, Phil Dunphy, wanted a hard to get present for his birthday which is April 3.  April 3 just coincidentally also happens to be the launch date for Apple’s iPad, the all things device bringing music, the library and the movie theater into your lap.

Per the Wall St. Journal (article linked here), the producers of the series thought this idea up and had their network’s sales team approach Apple.  Apple loved the idea and apparently, no money exchanged hands.  The iPad was treated like any other prop in a episode.  It was just written in as a character, if you will.

But, why I did I love this – because it never felt like a commercial.  I totally believed that Phil’s character would have been geeky enough to “jones” for one of these new gadgets.  It fit his profile. The producers apparently were kicking around him purchasing a new video game – but that wouldn’t have been in line with his character.  Phil is always fiddling around with his flat screen TVs or wearing sound-proof headsets. He has always the latest gadgets. It was perfect.

I am so glad that an idea involving big conglomerates wasn’t killed on a lawyer’s desk. This was a nice moment for the viewers.

Bravo Apple and ABC!

Best,

Cindy (who too wishes she could get an iPad) Can I come over and see your’s? I’ll bring cookies.

Treat Celebrities as Equals

Why Can’t They Play Nice Together?

Dawn C. Chmielewski and Amy Kaufman’s article “Is Nickelodeon going to give rival Disney the brush off at Kids’ Choice Awards? “in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, March 27, reminded me about an ugly practice in our business — excluding celebrities from events or shows just because they belong to another company not currently owned by the “said” media conglomerate. For those of you who haven’t experienced this yet in your PR practice, this is a common reality in the world of entertainment PR.

Here’s how it works.  Let say, Ed O’Neill from ABC’s hit comedy “Modern Family” was pitched to be on NBC’s “The Today Show” – well, this pitch wouldn’t have happened, because “The Today Show” only wants NBC celebrities and plus, ABC has their own morning show “Good Morning America.”  The same holds true for late night celebrities.  Seldom, if ever, would you see a non-CBS celebrity on “Late Show with David Letterman” or an non-NBC’er on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”  And the pockets go much deeper – this also stretches into the programs of their cable sisters.  Even if Ed O’Neill was in a blockbuster movie by an independent studio, he would be seen as ABC’s goods and would guest non-Grata anywhere else.  It’s a fraternity if you will and the Networks run their own private country clubs. They take care of their own and believe me the system is well aware of it.

So if I was given the keys to the media kingdom, here’s the first change I would make – its revolutionary – but I’d open my companies doors and let everyone in – no matter what competing show they were on or rival network or for that matter parent owner.  If a person is in the media, they are allowed in – no questions asked.

Just imagine – MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow could be included in a “60 Minutes” piece.  Or “Dancing with the Stars” celebrities could appear on “Late Show With David Letterman” or Jay Leno could guest on “Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel.”  Or for that matter, Craig Ferguson could visit with the gals on “The View.”  Better yet, the stars that the kids love would be welcome on the red carpet at the “Kids Choice Awards!”

I really don’t understand this industry insecurity.  It’s dysfunctional and has to go.  The TV industry needs to embrace social media’s world-wide philosophy of sharing your knowledge with others — not holding on to your tools and hoarding your wares.  The open source system has been life-changing.  One cannot but appreciate Google and Wikipedia. They’ve brought so much into our lives.

Even Bart Simpson Gets It!

So if I was Media King for a day, that’s what I’d do. I’d remove all network celebrity restrictions and would not fear that I would lose tune-in by doing so. In fact, I think I’d gain audience share by practicing good will and trusting that I am producing a good product.  Life is about competition. That’s a certain.   But, why do companies have to remain in fear and paranoia of not providing their customers with the best content possible?

Wouldn’t the world truly be a better place?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these restrictions. Also, tell me what celebrity would you like to see on a competing network show.

One can dream.

Cindy

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