April 13, 2007
P&G, Product Placement, and Mo'Nique

Reality television is particularly open for product placement and even product integration. We have written about this here in the past, but the deal struck last week between major advertiser Procter & Gamble and reality television show Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance on Oxygen is yet another example of how this partnership works.

The reality show, now in its third season, will use P&G products in a lounge for its casting calls, and P&G products will be used as sponsors in on-air vignettes and online video as well. The deal is part of P&G's attempts to reach African American women with Cover Girl and Pantene.

For those who don't know about the show, F.A.T. stands for "fabulous and thick," and the show features women who emphasize that a "plus-size" look is beautiful. In the TelevisionWeek story from Jon Lafayette, an Oxygen representative called Mo'Nique's audience for the show "passionate, loyal and highly involved."

Last May, I wrote about the distinction between product placement and product integration from the Writers Guild of America. At the time, I wrote, "Some television programs allow for product integration, using the WGA distinction, more than others. Particularly, it seems that reality television shows or sporting events are not as badly hurt by the extensive use of sponsor names because it doesn't seem as absurd. Both are already controlled environments and in fact gain their narrative drive from that contrived situation, whether it be a game or a reality competition."

This deal between P&G and Oxygen is another illustration of this, in that the acknowledgment of the staging of the event on television for reality TV allows for product integration in a way that integrating products in a fictional world is much more difficult.

Of course, since P&G has so many brands under its wing and since so many of these brands are "everyday" household products, it may be easier for that company in particular to have natural product placement in fictional worlds as well, even if product integration is not quite as easy.

For instance, back in February, I wrote about the use of P&G products in the soap opera As the World Turns, when character Margo Hughes was pulling groceries and household supplies out of her shopping bag during a scene, and the products were all P&G. Since this was a P&G-owned soap, the placement made perfect sense. I wrote, "The majority of the viewers indicated that they found it natural, noticed but didn't pay close attention and some felt it actually added to the show to have those real products used. And most of them, the loyal and active viewers who post on message boards, also saw supporting product placement as a way to support the show and its sponsors."