As the new TV season kicks off, last season’s winners in the product placement sweepstakes are tallied. Anyone who’s been to a movie or watched a TV show in the last decade would need a new pair of glasses not to notice the increasingly close ties between entertainment and commerce. The soft drinks actors sip — with labels carefully turned toward the camera — and the brand names characters drop aren’t casually chosen. Companies know that a picture or word is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. As Nancie Tear, president of PropStar Placements, a Vancouver-based agent for manufacturers and brand owners, said, “It’s priceless.” There were plenty of opportunities for scripting fashion into the final seasons of “Friends” and “Frasier.” Meanwhile, the reality series “Extreme Makeover” was a vehicle for style and beauty brands.

Sit-Com TV Recall:
The five products with the highest viewer recall** on “Friends” and “Frasier”***

  1. RALPH LAUREN
    Brand recall index: 168

    Date: April 22
    “Friends”
    Episode: Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) tells Ross (David Schwimmer) that she was offered her job back by the designer.
    Mentions such as this when a brand fits seamlessly into an episode’s story line is priceless since customers associate the brand with the show’s star.

  2. RALPH LAUREN
    Brand recall index: 149

    Date: Feb. 26
    “Friends”
    Episode: Interviewer asks Rachel why she wants to leave her job at Ralph Lauren.
    “TV and film is a huge outlet for high-fashion and each show requires it,” said PropStar Placements’ Tear. “Ultimately, it has to work for both sides.”

  3. GUCCI
    Brand recall index: 145

    Date: Feb. 26
    “Friends”
    Episode: Rachel interviews for a job with another designer.
    Rachel’s lunch interview with a Gucci representative is right next to her boss’ table. She doesn’t get the new job and she loses her job at Ralph Lauren.

  4. GAP
    Brand recall index: 128

    Date: Jan. 8
    “Friends”
    Episode: Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Ross wear the same Gap shirt.
    Two “Friends” characters have the same good taste. When products or brands are strategically written into a story the stars have to approve.

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