I've never been into The Biggest Loser much. This season, I've been sucked into a few episodes. Call it curiosity. Or perhaps I'm just trying to understand the Capsule office obsession with P90X a little better.
Whatever it is, the most standout thing about the show is not the incredible transformations, the tears, or the throwing up after a particularly strenuous workout. It's the horrible product placement.
Last night I watched Aussie chef hottie Curtis Stone touting Jennie O ground turkey burgers to the team: a giant disconnect if I ever saw one, given that his usual style leans towards local, organic and gourmet. Jennie O mass-produced ground turkey meat is none of these things. The close-ups of the product packaging, over-use of the brand name, and general clumsiness of the segment made the product placement unnatural and icky.
I've seen the same thing before with Yoplait yogurt. In one of the first episodes of the season, we see one of the contestants upset over something - possibly a poor weigh-in result. Bob consoles her. WITH A YOPLAIT YOGURT.
I don't know about you, but when I'm upset, the last thing I feel like reaching for is a low-fat strawberry yogurt. Another example of an unrealistic and forced scene. Poor Bob must have been cringing beneath those gigantic tattoo-covered biceps.
I understand that brands are seeking new ways to promote themselves - new causes, new associations, new ways of connecting with consumers. But they're putting themselves at risk of insulting the audience instead.
I found a transcript online of a blogger's conversation with Jillian Michaels and Mark Koops, executive producer.
“One of the other questions that’s been brought up by a lot of the readers on [DietsInReview.com] is the product placement that takes place on this show. Everyone [feels it is] very cheesy and it’s very obviously placed. Is there any plan to tone that back in the future or to maybe do it a little differently?”
Jillian: “Mark? I’ll have to defer to my boss on this one because I cannot talk about this at all. I’ll get in trouble.”
Brandi: “Product placement is obviously paying the bills for the show, but it seems to be striking a strange chord with the audience.”
Mark: “I think, you know, it is sort of, no pun intended – part of the reality of where television is moving to in the 21st Century. The 30-second spot, you know, goes away and (DVR) penetrations, it’s a longer topic of conversation.
We’re approached by a number of companies wanting to, to get involved in the show. And I think we’re very selective in terms of who we take. We’ve been approached in the past by all the fast food companies, you know.
I think we do try and have a selective process about who we pick and about the message they’re trying to (sell).
Could at times it be done, you know, cleaner and better? I think there’s always room for improvement."
Seems like Jillian's not excited about it either.
I have three words of advice for The Biggest Loser and its sponsors: Make It Subtle!
I recommend saying it like Tim Gunn.