Plastic product placement on ABC

Posted on | November 5, 2010 | 2 Comments

Product placement: A "brain surgeon" with her almost constant companion, a plastic single use water bottle, in ABC's Private Practice. Source: ABC

Want to pollute this coastline? Call the scriptwriters.

Click on the cover for more on "Bottled & Sold"

There are various ways to advertise on network television, but only product placement inoculates the message against the fast forward button. In the case of ABC’s Private Practice, a medical drama set in Santa Monica, California, a sales pitch for bottled water was even written into the script recently. A character who we are to accept as an Ivy League-trained brain surgeon was given a speil about  how ready access to bottled water untroubled by guilt about the bottle’s persistence in the environment for 1,000 years was what she loved about the show’s ocean-side clinic. With this insouciance for hire, ABC managed the ultimate perversion. No, not asking us to accept a bimbo as a brain surgeon. Much worse: Using the Pacific as backdrop for a crap program while justifying a way of life that is filling up the Pacific with crap.

How much crap? Terrifying amounts. Click here to listen to Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation on Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its impact on sea birds and marine life on the Patt Morrisson show on KPCC. Or read Peter Gleick’s “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind our Obsession with Bottled Water.” For information about plastics and Southern California beaches, go to Heal the Bay. For information about the November 6 Tedx conference in Los Angeles about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, click here.


2 Responses to “Plastic product placement on ABC”

  1. Matthew Heberger
    November 7th, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    I watched the clip over at Peter Gleick’s blog, and came to the opposite conclusion: I don’t think it’s a product placement at all. If so, it’s a ham-handed one: the props department pasted over the Fiji label, although most people will recognize the distinctive square bottle, and the character openly revels in the product is damaging to the environment.

    Rather, I think it’s a sign of a cultural shift: bottled water is increasingly viewed as a wasteful, unnecessary, and perhaps even sinful indulgence. Water bottles are the new cigarettes.

    So activists like Peter Gleick, Amy Leonard, Maude Barlowe, and many others should congratulate themselves. The campaign against bottled water has entered the zeitgeist, enough so that TV writers can poke fun at it!

  2. EmilyGreen
    November 9th, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    I hope that you’re right, however in searching for a still on ABC’s website, the character concerned cropped up yet again nursing a bottle of Brand (guess by the shape). I’m not convinced that product placement only concerns brands; it could also concern an industry, in this case the plastics one, which recently beat back the single-use plastic bag ban in California. I took the scene to have been played as blithe disregard, fashionable insouciance, because the character takes the bottle and flounces off with it. When the campaign enters the zeitgeist in a meaningful way, she’ll take a glass and drink from the tap after spotting the bottle in the fridge. The scene was, after all, set in a kitchen.

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