December 6, 2005
Tyson Chicken--An Example of the Future??

Since I study the soap opera industry regularly, I thought I would post something about the partnership between Tyson Foods and As the World Turns, the soap that I "study" (am an avid fan of).

Barbara Ryan, who has been a regular character on the show played by Colleen Zenk Pinter since 1978, is one of the most recognizable stars on the show. In the past couple of years, her character--who has long been the neurotic head designer of fashion company BRO (Barbara Ryan Originals)--has gone of the deep end and has become a soap villain of sorts.

Tyson, a regular advertiser on the CBS daytime lineup, somehow borkered a deal with the producers of ATWT and shot the following commercial:

Barbara walks into the kitchen of her aunt and uncle's home (Bob and Kim Hughes, the core family of the show), on her cell phone and says the following:

"What did I do today? Well, I took the kids to school, foiled a kidnapping attempt, took my son to his psychiatrist's, picked up the drycleaning, divorced my eighth husband, went to lunch and played bridge, recovered from the explosion, went to the grocery store, and sabotaged a fashion show. You?"

At the bottom of the screen, Tyson's logo appears, along with its new catch-phrase "Powered by Tyson." These were a great departure from the more conventional "families powered by Tyson" commercials, but the fans of As the World Turns began talking about the commercial regularly.

Later, Tyson featured Barbara Ryan's character in a second commercial with similar results, as she walks into the same kitchen and says:

"What have I been up to lately? Well, I flew out of a second-story courtroom window, confessed to a murder that I didn't commit, foiled an attempt to brainwash my son, sent my enemies to a Swiss spa and aged them 40 years, and crashed my car into a mental institution? And you?" Again with the Tyson information appearing.

As opposed to blatant product placement within the show, the fans have accepted this spot as brilliant and regularly bring it up on message boards, etc. I think this is one way that producers could market their products along with entertainment in intriguing ways. The spot cost nil to produce, as it was filmed on the show's set with one of their regular actors, and yet it created a much stronger link between the fans of the show--As the World Turns--and the product. Now, Tyson seems to be a "hip" product in-line with what soap opera is really like, rather than a frozen food and chicken company trying to hock its products at the stereotypical housewife.


On December 12, 2005 at 11:43 AM, MaryHatch said:

The Tyson commercial was witty and funny. If soaps are to survive, product placement is the only way, and it's important to come up with ways of doing it that will amuse rather than annoy the fans.

On December 14, 2005 at 7:41 AM, Sam Ford said:

Amusing product placement works well. More than that, natural product placement isn't that annoying. And, in a show like ATWT and, considering all the products P&G have, there are so many more options for natural product placement than they have bene using. It's really quite shocking to see a company like P&G not realize this....Maybe it's becuase there are so few kitchen sets on the show now, for instance, but how many ways could you have a lot of P&G products in the background, for instance, without ever drawing attention to them in an annoying way, in ways that will still get the brands out there, etc.?

On December 14, 2005 at 10:51 PM, feemeister said:

Barbara is without a doubt one of my alltime favorites. I saw the commercials, and they were FANSTASTIC! She was so FUNNY! She was perfect for those! They should make a new one, and top it by having Kim walk in at the end and start one of her Okay Kiddo! speeches that are so funny! They are ESPECIALLY funny when directed at Babs! This was a great attention grabber, in my opinion!

On December 15, 2005 at 9:37 AM, Sam Ford said:

That was exactly my point, feemeister. The commercial works because Tyson was brave enough to make a commercial to show that they knew and understood the show and embraced the ATWT fan community. Don't you think more personalized advertising like this, while it might take more development and planning, would cause you to watch the commercials? I mean, right now, most people tape or TiVo the soaps, from what some people indicate on the board, so advertisers and the producers of the show and CBS all have something to gain by embracing projects like this one.

On December 21, 2005 at 9:46 PM, Elaine Eichelberger said:

I really enjoyed the commercials, and I think most of it was due to the great persona of CZP. If they made other commercials that were HALF this good, I would watch the commercials every time I saw them! Whenever these with Barbara come on I watch them all the way through, and laugh every time! If they were clever enough to come up with this one, they should be able to make others, almost as effective! And I would think that if P&G would return to having family kitchen scenes, as they did the days of the past, it would be very simple and natural to incorporate their products all over the place! Remember how homey the Snyder kitchen used to be? Then it was dropped. Many of the scenes in the old days were made over coffee in the kitchen. There was a coziness and homeyness to that that is definitely missing now. But that would be an easy way to bring it in! Carly could be baking a Duncan Hines cake in the kitchen! And Parker and JJ could come running in and screaming over which one would lick the bowl! That would even bring attention to the cake mix, but in a totally natural way! (At least I used to fight over licking the bowl when I was a kid!) Gwen could come over, and Carly could say Hey, Gwen! come in and sit down! I'm baking a cake! We can have some when it's done! And Gwen says, Wow, Carly, do you do your own baking? And Carly says Oh, no! I don't have time to do that with taking care of these boys and Sage! So I have a little help from Duncan Hines! You can't tell the difference! Now granted, you couldn't do that every day! And it even helps create a homey atmosphere! And it's normal, natural things that people say every day, so it's not outlandish or anything. And P&G, with all it's products, would really have a jump start! Additionally, something like this could be made into a commercial. The people and characters are known and loved; it would really be an attention getter for the commercial! In fact, the scenarios I mentioned could be combined and made into a DH commercial! And then at the end, there could be a little plug for the show! It would be really nice if something could be done to show the public how great the actors are on these shows! In my opinion, they are MUCH better than movie actors and prime time people (for the most part)!

On December 23, 2005 at 9:10 AM, Sam Ford said:

I think it just goes to show you that fans aren't averse to advertising in general but just the intrusive advertising that has nothing to do with the show. One alternative is product placement--another is working in creative commercials like this one. I think a combination of some sort would really make eyeballs actually see the messages instead of flipping through channels, etc.

There would be no problem in incorporating product placement in shows in a way that wouldn't even cause extra burdens on the writers, other than making sure scenes took place on sets that would make themselves easily available for product placements.

See, returning action to the kitchens, incorporating brands, etc., could serve the dual function of pleasing fans by returning to some of these kitchen scenes, etc., while also getting product placement in. It would also be good to see more scenes in various workplaces, which could also involve more product placement.

I think your Duncan Hines case is a way to have action going on while also doing a more involved product placement.

And I like the idea about crossover commercials as well. The key is to do this without putting substantial burden on the writing team in addition to all the duties that they already have and in a way that doesn't commercialize the show and trivialize the excellent writing. But I think there's a way to do that and make sure everybody wins and that the shows are even more profitable.