One of my favorite things about 30 Rock is the sly way the show savages corporate culture — from Jack Donaghy's title (Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming) to the hilarious Greenzo episode that poked fun at NBC's Green is Universal initiative. But I'm conflicted about the show's increasingly blatant product placement. I initially thought the gags were hilarious — remember the scene in the "Jack-Tor" episode where the writers complained about having to do product placement, all the while plugging Snapple? — but recently, they've been grating on me.
Unsurprisingly, NBC is getting paid for those placements, even when 30 Rock makes them into over-the-top jokes. The show has had 142 product placements this season — which, interestingly, isn't nearly as many as The Office, which has had 381 product placements so far. But I don't notice the advertising as much on The Office, probably because the show doesn't intentionally draw attention to the products it's plugging as much as 30 Rock does (the episode where Dwight quits to work at Staples notwithstanding).
With more and more people skipping commercials these days, product placement is probably here to stay. But would you rather have it done in a subtle way or in a direct and over-the-top style like 30 Rock's? As annoying as it can be, I do respect the way 30 Rock makes it obvious that we're being advertised to, and it fits the tone of the show — up to a point, anyway. Where would you draw the line? To watch a clip of the most obvious recent placement, just
Photo courtesy of NBC
— Additional reporting by Kimra McPherson and Kate Emswiler