Update: Entertainment Weekly has more info on these ads and where they came from. It seems they were also advertising Bad Teacher as well.
There have been some pretty strange viral marketing campaigns for movies in recent years, but up until now, there’s been nothing quite like this — at least not that we’re aware of. An ad for the upcoming Kevin James comedy Zookeeper was recently spotted on screen in an episode of How I Met Your Mother. The ad was on the back of a magazine that was sitting in the background, which in and of itself, isn’t too crazy… product placement happens all the time. What’s pretty strange and potentially unsettling about this is the fact that the episode in question was a re-run. It would appear that the ad was digitally inserted after the original episode had aired in order to create something much more timely. Will this be the next big thing in advertising?
The ad was apparently noticed by someone over at The Consumerist (via Bad Ass Digest), and they must have eagle eyes because I, for one, have no idea how they saw it. It seems so insignificant that it’s hard to believe anyone would go through the trouble of adding it. However, they also have a screen capture of the original episode that seems to prove that it has been changed. I suppose sometimes it is the subtle or subliminal advertising that can be the most effective.
Either way, if TV networks have found a way to resell product placement in old TV episodes, they may have hit on a gold mine. Video games have recently started doing something similar by dynamically inserting ads into games using online connections. It keeps advertising relevant and replenishable. But is this a good thing? Product placement is a part of the pop culture environment in which something was created, and if you start changing this, what’s to stop people from tinkering with dialogue and other elements of the original? Do we really want classic TV shows getting completely revamped with current day products? This could definitely open the floodgates and I don’t know that it’s necessarily a good thing. What are your thoughts on digitally adding product placement into old TV episodes?