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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”***

This story first appeared in the September 2, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

    Brand recall index: 168

    Date: April 22
    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.
    Brand recall index: 149

    Date: Feb. 26
    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
    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
    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.

  5. GAP
    Brand recall index: 128

    Date: Feb. 24
    Episode: Niles (David Hyde Pierce) enters the coffeehouse with a Gap shopping bag and joins Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Martin (John Mahoney).
    Gap has snob appeal. Frasier: “The Gap – Niles, I didn’t know you shopped there.” Niles: “I just discovered it. Apparently, there are a number of them!”

Reality TV Recall:
The five product placements and brand mentions with the highest viewer recognition** on “Extreme Makeover” between Feb. 2 and April 18

    Brand recall index: 229

    Date: Feb. 5
    “Extreme Makeover”
    Episode: Against the backdrop of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Susan and Michael are wed at the theme park.
    The program followed the couple from their “before” phases and through their respective surgical procedures.
    Brand recall index: 185

    Date: Feb. 5
    “Extreme Makeover”
    Episode: Susan, left, shops for wedding shoes by the bridal designer.
    “Sex and the City” treated high fashion as a character in the series and other shows derive cachet from featuring or dropping designer names.
  3. BOTOX
    Brand recall index: 154

    Date: March 24
    “Extreme Makeover”
    Episode: A doctor speaks about the drug with a patient.
    Minimally invasive treatments such as microdermabrasion and Botox gain credibility when a physician discusses them on national TV.
  4. SONY
    Brand recall index: 148

    Date: April 14
    “Extreme Makeover”
    Episode: James, left, watches a video of himself on a Sony TV.
    Sony hopes its logo says to viewers: Want a clearer picture? Then buy our TV.
    Brand recall index: 145

    Date: March 18
    “Extreme Makeover”
    Episode: Sarah, left, shops for shirts with Sam at an Ann Taylor store.
    Wardrobe stylist Sam Saboura, who works with celebrities, validates a store with his expert’s seal of approval.

SOURCE: AIG RESEARCH, WHICH PROVIDES DATA TO IMPROVE THE ECONOMICS OF MARKETING ON TELEVISION BY PROVIDING INSIGHT INTO THE PERFORMANCE OF AD CAMPAIGNS AND IN-PROGRAM MARKETING. *Denotes a tie. **Scores are indexed against the mean score for all in-program integrations in the time period, where 100 equals average brand recognition. ***“Friends” and “Frasier” monitored BETWEEN JAN. 1 AND MAY 2; SOME IMAGES ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF SERIES.