Happy Endings is an American sitcom which reminds me of Friends for different reasons: three girls and three guys, two of them are married, two of them were almost married, but the bride run away from the wedding ceremony, two of them are sisters, … The show premiered on ABC television in April 2011, but was renewed for a second season.
I’ve managed to watch all 13 episodes of the first season in a couple of days and my main reason for watching was product placement-spotting (yes, it’s true). Even though the critics initially criticized the TV show it somehow began to receive praise from them. Some of them even admitted that it had grown on them and that it had improved since the pilot. I have to agree with them – the show is not bad and it generated a few LOLs too.
For some strange reason I had expected a lot more product placement than I’ve actually spotted. Some brands were present regularly, but the majority could be seen only in an episode or two. Let’s check the most obvious cases.
I’ve spotted three brands of mobile phones and I’ve got confirmation from product placement agency Hollywood Branded that there was a deal for a placement of Black Berry in the show. Black Berries could have been seen in several episodes and had a prominent role in the 13th episode in which Penny got a new assistant at work and Matt & Brad spied her via Black Berry.
The pilot contained a close-up shot of iPhone, although I haven’t seen it since. One episode had also a close-up shot of strangely modified Sony Xperia.
Ray Ban sunglasses and Fila tracksuit
Even though the main characters wore nice clothes they weren’t showcasing branded outfit. One of the characters (Alex) also runs her own women’s clothing boutique called Xela (Alex backwards), but the authors hadn’t developed anything out of that possibilities.
I’ve spotted a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses in the 4th episode and in the 5th Brad and his father wore vintage Fila tracksuits.
In the last episode of the first season Jane was running a literacy group and we could’ve spotted her holding an iPad. It was barely seen and very discreet. I’ve got a feeling that the network didn’t even want to show the gadget.
In the second episode Alex tried to find a roommate and when she finally got the right person, her sister Jane found out that the new roommate was filming what was going on in the apartment and broadcasting the action via live stream at SmokingHotRoomies.com The domain was registered by ABC television and it will redirect you to Happy Endings’ home page (but not to an official site).
Mini and Toyota Prius
Mini was seen briefly in the pilot, while (I think) I’ve spotted Toyota Prius in a couple of episodes: as Brad and Jane’s car and also Shershow’s car (Shershow is an old friend of the bunch).
Brand dropping: Skinnygirl Margarita and Toyota Yaris
Bethenny Frankel’s cocktail drink Skinnygirl Margarita was mentioned by Penny in the third episode when she suggested a perfect evening:
“There’s a singles booze cruise tonight on Lake Mich.
We play our cards right, we are drunk off skinny girl margaritas by 7:00.
We are knee-deep in investment bankers by 9:00!”
In the 10th episode Penny mentioned Toyota Yaris when she complained to Alex that she doesn’t want to participate in her ‘girls’ night outs’:
“In the last week, you have dragged me to a karate pilates class,
made me test-drive a Yaris,
and talked me into seeing a children’s production of Hair,
which thankfully, got shut down before the second act.”
However, by the end of the episode Penny changed her mind about the car and said:
“Although, in fairness, that Yaris was a lot of car for the price.”
Heisler beer and Zitzewitz’s vodka
Both product were featured quite heavily, especially Heisler beer, which was seen in almost every episode. However both products are actually props, used instead of the real brands. According to Wikipedia Heisler is a fictional brand of beer produced by the StudioGraphics division of ISSand The Earl Hays Press. Heisler beer has appeared in various movies and TV shows and some of its packaging indicates it is a fictional brand of gold ale.
On Earl Hays Press’ website you can also find fictional brand of vodka, called Zitzewitz’s.
Happy Endings offers a lot of product placement opportunities but in the first season producers were kind of reluctant to pursue them, at least from my point of view. Let’s check a few examples:
1. In almost every episode we could see a computer, but its logo was covered with a sticker. There is an opportunity for Apple, Sony Vaio, HP, Dell to include some of their brands … or maybe for some creative way of using stickers.
2. Instead of drinking Heisler beer or Zitzewitz’s vodka the main characters could sip a real brand of soda, beer, vodka, whisky or even cocktails. Using fictional brands in the product placement era is a bit unusual.
3. Mobile phones were used quite heavily, although we couldn’t really see brands or logos. I believe that we’ll see even better use of product placement in that category.
4. In my opinion cars could be more heavily involved in the story, e.g. Brad and Jane’s marriage could be enhanced with conversations about cars and I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers include Toyota Prius in the story.
All in all Happy Endings had nice, but also a bit shy product placement with a room for improvement.