Reality shows like "The X Factor," "American Idol" and "The Biggest Loser" may lead the way in product placement on television in terms of dollars, but, according to a study, scripted shows generate far more memorable moments.
For instance, it doesn’t take a house to fall on Tessa Altman for her to know that her new life in the burbs is nothing like her old one in New York City. But it did take a can of sugar-free Red Bull to hit her in the head to drive the point home to viewers.
At least, that’s one scene that stuck out to the audience of “Suburgatory,” making the integration of the energy drink into the ABC sitcom one of the most memorable product placements of the year.
The finding is part of an annual study from Nielsen, a research firm that tracks brands that pop up, either paid or unpaid, in TV shows, and rates the impression of those on-air mentions and placements on the audience. Red Bull in “Suburgatory” was second in viewer recall only to Sheldon on CBS’ hit “The Big Bang Theory” using Purell after handling a live snake.
Among the other well-recalled placements: Det. Beckett (Stana Katic) tools around in a Ferrari on ABC’s cop drama “Castle,” characters play Hasbro board games Scrabble and Monopoly on “Desperate Housewives,” and Subway sandwiches make a high-profile appearance on NBC’s “Chuck.”
For this particular data grab, Nielsen considered only the brands that were both seen and mentioned on network TV shows between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year. Scores come from the percentage of viewers who could recall, within 24 hours, which products they saw while watching TV shows (excluding the ads).
The industry numbers cruncher also rates the “top 10 prime-time programs with product placement.” Most of those shows — “American Idol,” “The Biggest Loser,” “The X Factor” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” — have multi-year, multimillion-dollar deals in place that include star treatment for sponsor brands.