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Sam Ford This piece originally appeared on Feb. 20, 2006, on the Convergence Culture Consortium from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Sam Ford blogs weekly there about soap operas in relation to fan cultures and innovative storytelling and marketing campaigns, in addition to blogging about many other new media issues updated multiple times daily.  You can visit his blog here.

Back in December, I posted an entry about a discussion on product placement in soaps from Michael Gill's Media Domain Board for As the World Turns.

At the time, everyone who posted on the thread agreed that product placement would be more effective, more natural, and possibly the only way for soap operas to survive, longterm, and people began to debate particular issues about how product placement should be handled.

Fast-forward a few months, and the same board has had a small mini-discussion with a few close watchers of ATWT regarding a particular case of product placement this past week.

One of the characters, Margo Hughes, came in with a bag of groceries, filled with Procter & Gamble merchandise. Only a few astute viewers even picked up on the fact that the majority of the items in her grocery bag were P&G items, which is the company that produces ATWT. In this case, the script called for her to be unloading her groceries in particular, and the types of items inside were completely plausible for a trip to the grocery. The items were never referenced directly, but it just felt natural--especially compared to the "Brand X" products used too often in daytime television.

These characters in the Hughes family live in the same branded world we do, and that's the type of realism that product placement done correctly can bring.

Of course, a few fans chimed in who were almost completely anti-P&G products being in the show, saying they were sickened by it, etc., but this seems to be more anti-commercialism rhetoric than anything. 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.

Alec's the product placement expert around here, though, so I would love to have him weigh in as well...


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Past Blast

Days of our Lives' Brendan Michael Coughlin enjoys playing Tad and being a new dad

When asked what it is like to play Tad on Days of our Lives, Brendan Michael Coughlin shouts exuberantly, "I love him!"

Coughlin has been playing the so-called behind the scenes instigator for the last two years. He has no family that is ever mentioned on the show, but he is there. He came on as Will's (Guy Wilson) best friend, but when it became clear that Will was gay, Tad did everything but bash and degrade and mock him. The irony? At the recent wedding of Will and Sonny (Freddie Smith), he was best man. Go figure!

"I know. It has been a wild ride. I did a whole turn around, and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed doing the wedding. I really enjoy playing this guy. He is a total goof-off. He means well, but is always on the wrong side of the rope." Coughlin said. "I have grown to love him. He is comic relief. I always had dramatic roles, so this is fun."

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