Product Placement and Sponsor Driven Content Killing Creative Independence

I tread on this territory very carefully because I know what money means to the growth of our entertainment industry. We need these sponsors and they need to get their money’s worth but this is getting a bit much.

Of late we have seen shows that are sponsor driven making it to our screens and slowly but surely wiggling out the other shows. 

Unfornately the prevalence of these shows have meant that the creative industry has to bow down to "The Suits". Yes, artists have now lost creative control and the so called 'brand strategists', advertisers and marketers are running the industry. 

It has become blatantly obvious that content in our local industry is driven by these people, which then begs the question; where does this leave everybody else?

What is happening now is that you will see products being punted in shows often in some very awkward moments. 

Generations could get away with product placement for a while because they would add the brands to the storyline by pretending that the said brand is a client at the fictional company, Ezweni. 

Of course even with Gen, when the PEP and Capitec name-dropping became more pronounced than the characters’ journey in the plot the cracks in the creative process showed.

As if being bombarded with product placement and branding though out the actual show, you will still get the brand’s commercial being played everytime the show breaks too. It all just turns in to an hour long advertisement for that brand.

Take My Top Billing Dream for instance; it is clear that the show is sponsored by Nedbank. They even pushed Eugene, who is the face of the brand at the moment, to be a judge on the show. Who cares that his presence on that panel seems so out of sync with the essence of the Top Billing brand. 

The guy is ill-suited for the show and his assessment of the contestants' performance is always marred by his insatiable need to score a laugh at every turn.

Every  time the show goes to break you still get the Netbank ad being played, on some instances even more that once in one break. Don’t forget that at the end of the show you still get a sign off from Eugene reminding you that the show you have been watching is sponsored by Netbank. 

There are many examples of this situation but the issue is not so much that the shows have sponsors. The problem is the strings that come with this financial support. 

We need the sponsors because channels will clearly not commit themselves to finance new productions. Sad but you have to make due with what you dealt. 

However, I think there are better ways to make shows that the marriage between advertisers and shows does not become too overbearing on the talent. 

If we continue in this route nobody will ever get a chance to be somebody in this industry unless they are backed by some brand which is pushing its own agenda. Is that the future we want for the entertainment industry in this country?


Anonymous said...

Phil I beg to differ on Eugene's presence in the show. I think Eugene actually gives very sound, articulate feedback. His critics always have some reasoning behind. Yes he maybe loud and trying too much to be funny but still his of the contestants perfomance is on thinks

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with u there @Phil. I dont see Eugene`s relevance there..he is so irritating and keeps laughing at almost everything! I dont remember him saying anything positive to the contestants!

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