June 15, 2006
Sponsors Line Up for Reality Show's Next Season

Bravo's hit reality show Project Runway will be signing up a sizable list of substantial sponsors, who will be integrated into the show in one way or another.

The sponsors include Macy's, Delta Air Lines, L'Oreal Paris, Saturn, Orbitz, and TRESemme.

Involvement with most of these brands included on-air presence and product integration infused throughout the show, as well as an online presence.

Considering the natural way that many of these products fit with the show, this makes sense. Further, there seems to be less of a backlash against reality shows having product placement as fictional programs, where it seems that some sort of creative aesthetic is damaged by heavy product integration.

On the other hand, reality shows already lack a sense of suspension of disbelief that fictional programs do, so that they draw attention to the fact that it is a show. This is the way that they've avoided the backlash I've blogged about before with the WGA. As I mentioned then, shows like Project Runway are not badly hurt by extensive use of sponsor names because it doesn't seem as absurd and because contestants are already in contrived situations so that, even if giving away a Saturn vehicle to the winner seems pretty overt, it works within the "game" aspect of the reality show.

Both Ivan Askwith and Rachel Shearer have followed the WGA battle with product integration in the past here on our blog as well.

And the reality genre's ability to do product integration without continued backlash is another reason why it may be such preferable program to many executives (even though many of these programs probably won't fare as well in their long tail future).

Any other thoughts?