Just Say Our Name….For Money

TV networks are turning to product placements to fight back against ad-skipping technologies like TiVo, but now some writers are putting up a fight, demanding more pay in exchange for scripting product plugs into their shows. Wired news had the story.

“The complaints may seem like crocodile tears coming from TV writers. After all, Hollywood was once perceived as the destination for artistic sell outs. Although some writers couch their protests in terms of betraying their craft, the Writers Guild also cites a more pecuniary concern: Their members aren’t compensated for working commercial messages into their scripts.

It’s no small issue. The use of product placements has increased 84 percent on television in the last year, according to the WGA’s call for regulations. “There is no clear line separating a TV show from an advertisement anymore,” said Carrie McLaren, editor of Stay Free magazine.

In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.”

Another product placement intruded a touching scene on ABC’s soap opera, All My Children, when writers were forced to incorporate a line about a new Wal-Mart perfume into the dialogue as a character, Greenlee, sat at the bedside of her husband who was suffering from a fatal gunshot wound.

Some writers are so angered by the process of appeasing advertisers they have begun to strike back with a website called Productinvasion.com that pokes fun at embedded products.