Wednesday, April 1
'30-Minute Calphalon Meals?' 'Paula's Kitchenaid Cooking?' - Will Product Placement Infiltrate Food Network (and would anyone care)?
So that's why I haven't even mentioned the newest raspy voiced host Claire Robinson and her new show 5 Ingredient Fix, which premieres this Saturday at 9:30am ET. Apart from another obvious attempt to create the next Rachael, the only other thing I'm interested in on the show's site is this curious "Set List" which got me thinking...
Everything from the show's dishware and cutlery, to the utensils and compost bin is listed with the corresponding brand name and web site. Is this simply a service for curious viewers or a new money-making venture for Food Network? Wouldn't those brands have to chip in a bit more for the added online presence?
For years, Food Network has covered up its products brand names, usually by just turning the label away from the camera or putting some tape over the identifying brand. Bigger shows like Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals are given the honor of real-looking, faux labels for their products that are created by graphic designers—keeping with television's longstanding tradition of genericizing all name brands to avoid conflicting with paid advertisers. You can't show Aunt Sandy using name brand Cool-Whip and then have a Reddi-Whip commercial right after! All hell would break loose!
Or would it?
In today's DVR/TiVo world where anyone can zip right through commercials, advertisers are looking for new ways to get their message out. Wouldn't Food Network, which already receives a bulk of its endorsements from food & housewares companies, benefit from doing a little food & housewares advertising during its programs?
Would you think less of Paula Deen if she shoved a big spoonfull of butter pudding into her mouth if the spoon was clearly emblazoned with Oxo? What about if Guy Fieri pronounced Ore-Ida tater tots to be the clear winner in the land of frozen potato products?
I'm not sure what to think about the possibility of product placement in Food Network shows. Big name stars like Ina Garten and Paula Deen, who shoot in their own homes, receive many (if not all) of their high-end appliances for free (Ina's assistant admitted to me this was the case in Ina's new barn).
Viking, Sub Zero, et al know their products will be seen in countless episodes of Barefoot Contessa and Paula's Best Dishes, so they give them gratis or at big discounts. (These deals often have other requirements where the stars' kitchens are featured in magazine spreads, books, etc. to get the brands even more exposure.) So what's stopping brands from competing and paying to be in a Food Network kitchen? Methinks not much.
And now for some official-sounding language: Food Network Addict contacted Food Network for comment, but calls were not immediately returned. Will let you know if they do, though!