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Extreme Makeover: A Product Placement Dream


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April 07, 2005

Extreme Makeover: A Product Placement Dream

David Kiley

ABC's Extreme Makeover sucked me in for two or three episodes. The drama of down and out or otherwise victimized families getting a real house to live in makes for good story telling. But beyond that, it's probably the best example of appropriate product placement on the air today.

Product placement will reach about $4.25 billion this year, according to PQ Media. That's a 23% surge from a year earlier. As more and more consumers, like me, skip more and and more ads via a DVR, the 30-second commercial is going the way of the nightly network newscast.

Many product placement deals are obnoxious and ham-fisted. The Apprentice comes to mind. Extreme Makeover has several sponsors with prominent placement deals: Sears, Ford and Pella Windows to name three. Seeing the designers go off to Sears every episode and deck out the house with Kenmore appliances, is not just a sponsorship, it's integral to the subject family getting their lives back. The best looking Sears products are featured, so the whole deal is far better than any 30-second ad the department store's ad agencies have created in 20 years. Pella windows, likewise, is nicely showcased in the show without being obnoxious about it. And, of course, Ford, is the one providing vehicles to the family. What's a new garage without new sheetmetal in it?

Here is one caveat on the reality show as product-placement canvas: how many of these can people watch before it gets old. I've seen three episodes, and I feel like I have seen all the ones I missed and all the shows they'll ever do. Down and out family, war widow or handicapped person lives in a shack. Ty Pennington arrives and builds a showplace in a week with round-the-clock crews. The crews don't think they will make the deadline. They miraculously do. Family comes back to showplace. Everybody cries. This show faces the same problem Pennington's old show, Trading Spaces, has faced. It all gets old, fast! Unlike the long running Law & Order, whose story format doesn't change, the writing and acting isn't good enough on reality shows to sustain itself for very long.

And here's a pet peeve. In one of the shows I saw, one of the kids was given something like five electric guitars. The show has a tendency to drift to excess. I wonder about what happens in some of these neighborhoods full of tumble-down houses that suddenly has a house worth seven times as much or more than any other house on the block and the family got it all for free. Envy can be an ugly thing. What's that dynamic like after a while?

But, hey. That's me. Some fifteen million people are watching Extreme Makeover, about twice the number that reads this blog every day (I wish). And it's the best ad buy Sears has made in a long time.

12:25 PM

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I think Extreme Makeover Homes are wonderful. Even though I don't live in delapadated house, I need another bedroom for the baby my daughter is having in September. She and her husband, 4 year old grandson and I live in a three bedroom house. I'm disabled and can't work. My son-in-law is the only one paying the mortgage and bills so we can't afford anything. We desperately need another bedroom and bathroom. My grandson's room is too little for two kids and mine is the same way.

My address is Norma Jenkins, 1218 Oakmanor Circle, Hewitt, Texas 76643.

My telephone is 254-857-8650

Please help me. I'm praying to God that you will answer my prayers.

Thank you,

Norma Jenkins

Posted by: Norma Jenkins at May 10, 2005 03:54 PM

I would like more details on getting a home makeover

Posted by: alvis conway at February 28, 2006 01:03 PM

you should just sit and think then do your thing!!!!!!

Posted by: lynda at April 6, 2006 05:06 AM

This product placement article is great. I am personally disgusted and dissapointed in Extreme Makeover: Home edition which exploits disabled people and capatilizes on the idea that they are helpless and pitied. I would like to see a report with more numbers such as how mush Sears pays ABC for their placement and how much commercials cost during the show that makes audiences 'feel good about themselves while sitting in front of the television'.

Posted by: Shelby at November 18, 2006 04:37 PM

Im asking for help for my friends in Monnet MO

Howard & Joyce Silvus their home burnt. 0nce then they moved into it to clean up and while Joyce was with her daughter the house exploded on her husband. thier had been a leak from the fire i guess that wasnt found. husband was lucky to live.. everything is lost and home. Can someone call her or him 1-417-393-9296 joyce/ howard -1-415-393-9030/ please call them they really need help.house had 2 fires in it. they will explain better than myself.

Thank you for your help.

Cher Winchell 1-972-837-2636

Posted by: cher winchell at December 2, 2006 02:18 PM

The ABC program "Extreme Makeover-Home Edition" is a slap in the face to any homeowner in these United States. I watched an episode this evening - 12/31/06 - and I had to ask myself, "Who in the hell pays for this?". Not the broke down family nor their "goodly" neighbors.

The guy they made such a fuss over had cancer and we find at the end, through a dedication, he is now deceased; that was a bad move ABC, show more taste. Eat the money if you have to. Wait, I am talking about "reality" television, right? Do what you want ABC, its good for the ratings.

On a serious note, I have had my head opened up four times to remove tumors - a kind word for cancer - and I live on disability in a 50 year old house. One can image what a 50 year old home in the NE is like. I could surely use a home makeover but in no way will I grovel at the feet of Mickey, Pluto and Donald nor place myself in the tax jeopardy situation those people face. When the IRS gets wise those folks will suffer as do those that are squeezed for lesser reasons.

The kitchen they put in that house is larger than the floor space I have here and was shocking. They set the oldest kid up with a video editing studio; that's neither inexpensive nor necessary for life and a new bicycle would have been more than appropriate. The now deceased man was setup with a workshop full of tools Tim Allen would envy. All courtesy of Sears.

Special emphasis was put upon the fact the neighbors were behind it all as this family is seemingly such an integral part of the neighborhood it had to be done. Whadayaknow...they got a brand new house; a phoenix from where the shack was razed. Define makeover for me...Paint, new carpet and kitchen cabinets or ...Brand new house?

Well, this is the network of Oprah so anything short of a castle would be a disappointment, right? Did they get brand new his-n-her Hummers to park in the new garage as well?

Somewhere, way back in my mind, I have the thought that $300B+ could do a lot of extreme makeovers to a lot of homes. Some got mere tombstones.

I may seem envious of those that give over to Disney but, no. I'm truly curious, just like so many more who have seen these shows may be.

"Who pays for the free new house"?

I will exercise the one choice i have towards this or any other radio/television programming that does not suit me. To many find this one option very hard to implement; turn the dial.

Posted by: michael hill at December 31, 2006 11:48 PM


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