Thursday, June 11, 2009

TV goes back to the future with title sponsors

Meet the future of television: the past.

MSNBC's terrible morning show, Morning Joe, has entered into a partnership with Starbucks, which includes giving Starbucks naming rights to the show itself. So, instead of "Morning Joe," we now have "Morning Joe Brewed by Starbucks."

As part of the deal, viewers get to see Starbucks coffee cups, billboards, banners, and softball interviews with Starbucks' CEO during the show.

This is the kind of thing that used to happen all the time in the early days of TV and radio, as evidenced in A Christmas Story (clip above), when poor Ralphie finally gets his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring in the mail and is depressed to discover that, when he finally breaks the code, it's nothing but a crummy ad for Ovaltine.

Viewers seem to be willing to take a certain amount of product placement, though "the perfect amount" seems to vary depending on the individual. For instance, I can take the Coke cups on American Idol just fine, but the Survivor contestants gushing over crates of Mountain Dew is a little hard to take.

The Morning Joe debate has spilled over into a war of words between Morning Joe and Jon Stewart; and if we've learned anything about wars of words involving Jon Stewart, Stewart usually wins. Right Jim Cramer?

Whether this discussion benefits Starbucks is anyone's guess - it does draw attention to the brand, but at the same time, it reeks of controversy and "sell out," which can make a desperate brand seem downright pitiful.

But this has got me thinking: "Kenton's Infotainment Scan as Relieved by Preparation H" has a nice ring to it.

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