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Who is the Food Network Addict? He's the guy serving up the latest news and gossip on your favorite celebrity chefs. From Rachael Ray to Ina Garten, Paula Deen to Giada, he's got you covered. Stop by daily and feed your addiction.

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Wednesday, April 1

'30-Minute Calphalon Meals?' 'Paula's Kitchenaid Cooking?' - Will Product Placement Infiltrate Food Network (and would anyone care)?

It takes a lot to get me excited about a new Food Network show before it airs; you gotta prove yourself first, and if you don't, you're dead to me (Chic & Easy who? ).

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!

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At 4/01/2009 11:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ol'Paula had better watch out about her " products " ... She's being sued by Nitches who had an exclusive contract to promote her products and she went behind their backs and signed with another company to sell more of her products . GREEDY...GREEDY...GREEDY !

At 4/01/2009 12:49 PM , Blogger Brian Flaherty said...

Jon and Kate Plus 8 have product placements and they're very annoying. One time Jon was talking about his day and said, "I then had to go on to allstate.com and check out some things about my car insurance. It was very easy to use and there was great stuff on it."


At 4/01/2009 1:08 PM , Blogger Lana said...

I hope an Alton fan out there can help me out ... isn't there mention, at the end of his shows, of the range / oven brand he uses? But I can also recall an episode where the brand of stand mixer was blurred out. (kitchen-aid, I can only assume)

Product placement is HUGE in the movies - I can see it happening at FN quite easily enough - perhaps not food labels (J, your whipped cream example is spot on) - but I can easily see kitchen utensils, appliances, tools and gadgets being endorsed.

Oh, and in case anyone was curious, Ore-Ida tater tots ARE, in fact, the clear winners in the land of frozen potato products. So sayeth I. *giggles*

At 4/01/2009 1:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My expectation of a professional chef is for them to use professional equipment, unless they've dumbed down their show and are trying to pass everthing off as "like the home cook." And equipment like that isn't cheap. Do I really care that it's a Viking Range, or that it's bigger than the one I have in my basic kitchen? Not really. Same with food products.

At 4/01/2009 2:53 PM , Anonymous Jeff said...

If the product placement doesn't get in the way of the preparation of the recipe(s) being described, I don't really mind. (Of course, there will be the first time Alton Brown on Good Eats finds a way to prepare a dish using the brand of grape juice he promotes heavily on TV these days...)

At 4/01/2009 7:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi people- These people on the Food network make a living at what they do ,on camera, writing cookbooks, cookware. It is NOT greed-it is capitalism. You have wealth envy!

At 4/01/2009 7:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Anon.7:11 ... It's greed. Take your blinders off .

At 4/02/2009 11:13 AM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

Watching Emeril Green, you alway see the stove brand name as well as the oven. You can't miss the fact the show is done in a "whole Foods" store.

It is kind of fun to figure out what the real brand is from the fake brand that get put on things.

All those San Maranzo tomatoes, I would love to know what brand they use. I have to go to some other store cause they just don't stock any brand at Fry's Food (Krogers) where I live.

Cool Whip Reddi-Whip, isn't that the argument between oil and cream?

I specifically buy Shamrock Farms milk. I buy it because of the way it is packaged, it last longer sealed than the store brand. Hey this gives me a chance in a blog comment to plug a product, if you are weight challenged like me you will love Shamrock Farms Rockin' Fuel, 300 calories per serving, and it tastes good.

For over the top products in a program, Degree and the SciFi show Eureka takes it to the MAXXX.

At 4/02/2009 3:02 PM , Anonymous Jeff said...

Remember the fake labels on ingredients used on shows like 30 Minute Meals? I recall on the first Food Network Unwrapped special that the graphic designer who created them often included little messages pleading the TV chef/cook who used the items to put in a good word for him with the manager of the channel's softball team...I wonder if he ever got his wish.

At 4/02/2009 5:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

jason-or whatever you are whoring yourself out as lately, how MUCH cash do you get from the food network to be their corporate schill? brazen hussy. suck up much? you REALLY should hide your head in shame. hope ina can remember your name after the 4th month of her gay of the day club....

At 4/03/2009 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord of Light -- you can see the San Marzano tomato cans on most of the shows, it's the San Marzano brand and you can get them at Whole Foods. White labels with the drawing of red plum tomatoes. Cento also sells a San Marzano line, but they're hideously expensive. You can sometimes find Bellino in stores as well.

At 4/03/2009 10:26 AM , Anonymous TEN said...

The graphic designers trying to cover up food products haven't made it to Giada yet. She obviously uses San Marzano brand tomatoes and sauce, and it was clear that she used a can of Whole Foods 365 diced tomatoes in a show recently. They've also slipped up with Ina because you can see the Callebaud and Ghirardelli chocolates and Nielsen-Massey vanilla. Maybe there's no advertising conflict with these products.

There are two sides to this -- I don't have any objection to the host naming a brand because he or she likes to use it, that's actually helpful in making their recipes (like on America's Test Kitchens). But we have no way of knowing if FN hosts are doing that because they really like the products ore because they or FN are paid to. We'll know it's all gone to hell when Paula starts shilling her own or Smithfield's products by name or by visible label, or when Ina hawks her Barefood Contessa mixes on the show (actually there may already be a conflict of interest if Ina has visible Stonewall Kitchen products in the pantry because her mixes sell in Stonewall Kitchen stores).

At 4/04/2009 11:42 AM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

anon 10:11 AM

I asked Whole Foods to put in a store near me. It was a fairly long email with demographics for 3 suitable locations. I never even got a thanks for playing reply. That's what I get for living in the wrong part of town. I should have called it West Scottsdale instead of Phoenix. Fresh & Easy opened in 2 of the locations I suggested. San Marzano are $4.60 a can at the Italian store and AJ


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