I’m just gonna say this up front: Bill Lawrence is a genius.
My love affair with his mind began the summer of 2005, when I was driving a boat in Glacier National Park (that’s a story for another day). One of my co-captains had Scrubs: Season 1 on DVD. The rest is history.
When Scrubs finally went off the air, I was immensely pleased that Mr. Genius applied himself elsewhere – Cougar Town. This show has gotten a bad rap due to the (let’s face it) awful name, and the first few episodes which tested some sub par waters. But trust me, now the show is a great one – incredibly well-written and witty with amazing actors, and downright hilarious most of the time.
I was fascinated by this week’s episode where Bobby sports Dr. Pepper gear on the golf course. My mind immediately was filled with a lively discussion:
Wait, is that product placement?
Um yes Eleanor, don’t be dense.
That’s so interesting, why are they doing that? Is it a joke?
No, because the first commercial break clearly states Dr. Pepper’s support for the episode.
So why are they doing it?
The questions were still bouncing around in my head while I biked to work this morning.
Do they need the money? How much do you think they get from having Bobby wear the apparel and be calmed at the sound of a fresh can of Dr. P being cracked open?
Is Bill Lawrence selling out? Or was this a move by ABC in which the producers had no say? (I wouldn’t be surprised)
Or maybe product placement is just so damn prevalent in our lives that it’s natural for prime-time shows to integrate it (yes).
In that first scene, the show acknowledges the placement almost immediately with a line from Travis: “Wait, is this being filmed?” This technique of acknowledgment is used often in TV and film – usually to fill in a plot hole or give a reason why something impossible is happening. So, does this quick statement make it “ok” to advertise for Dr. Pepper during the show? Does it appease the audience enough?
I find this kind of stuff absolutely riveting. The way media works today is so complicated…and I want to know ALL OF IT! I want to know why they chose Dr. Pepper, and their reasoning for making it such a large part of this week’s episode!
I wish I could get inside Bill Lawrence’s brain and camp out for a while. The man is amazing. And being married to Christa Miller is a huge bonus…she’s a hottie.
The Paley Center for Media discussion with the cast and crew of Cougar Town is amazing. You can watch clips (that I selected for Paley!) for free on Hulu. The discussion only covers Season 1, but it still give fabulous insight to the show and Bill Lawrence as creator/producer.