A few days ago Apple’s iPad played a major role in ABC’s TV series Modern Family. You can read my analysis of this clever product placement here. We all thought that there was a case of classic product placement that involves serious money from advertiser’s side. However …
Soon after all world’s media reported about that show and THAT placement, ABC issued a statement explaining more details about the whole deal. Basically, they said that there was no money involved. Modern Family’s co-creator Christopher Lloyd said:
“In fact, there was no product placement. This was widely assumed, and everybody was wrong. We wanted to do a show about Phil getting very excited about a new product and it seemed the perfect one to use, since it was debuting [April 3]. We approached Apple about getting their cooperation (using the product, for example, and they are notoriously secretive about their products prior to their being launched) and they agreed and gave us a few other small concessions. But there were no stipulations as with normal product placement, i.e. we give you X dollars and you have to feature our product such-and-such a way and say such-and-such nice things about it. We are not angels — we have made those agreements with other companies. But that was not the deal with Apple. It was all story-driven.”
The above statement was quite unexpected, mainly because iPad’s placement wasn’t some regular placement – everything that happened in that episode evolved around iPad. Anyway, can we even believe Lloyd’s story? Here are some motives that could confirm their explanation:
- the release date of the episode coincided with the release date of iPad – so the show is really up-to-date;
- their main motive for iPad’s product placement was to generate buzz about the Modern Family TV show and some positive PR;
- consequently they could expect higher ratings.
After ABC’s denial of product placement some reports about bigger deals surfaced. Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.’s CEO, is the largest individual shareholder of Disney Co., with a 7.1 percent stake worth nearly $5 billion, and is also on its board of directors. Disney Co., which is ABC’s parent company, announced last week that it would offer applications for all its businesses on the iPad. About 20 ABC TV series will be available to iPad users through a Wi-Fi connection.
So maybe the whole product placement deal for Modern Family was really a small part of the whole mega deal.
Apparently viewers of the show didn’t seem to mind the obvious product placement. Wednesday’s episode drew 9.3 million viewers and a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49, its biggest number in that demographic in almost two months.