Rosenthal Says Actors, Writers and The Audience Are “Exploited” By Product Integration

Phil Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond testified before Congress on behalf of the Writers’ Guild and Screen Actors Guild. He denounced product integration and did so quite elegantly (even though this issue is primarily a battle for compensation, and not about big bad brands forcing themselves on entertainment elites).

[via New TeeVee]

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The fawning way in which the Congressman introduced Rosenthal instantly had me against whatever he was going to say, but he did, as you state, make his case eloquently.
    I think the whole premise is backward: People aren’t watching commercials because of the DVR. Maybe shitty commercials, sure.
    If a commercial is good, I’ll bet people will watch it. We go out of our way to watch good commercials on YouTube, right?
    At my house we usually mute the sound during commercial breaks. Last night, during The Office, we unmuted the sound when BP’s “Catch the Wind” commercial came on. I can watch that thing repeatedly. (And here’s the waste for BP, I never stop at BP stations.)
    As for product integration being the answer, that’s just laziness on the part of creatives.
    And if a viewer can’t tell when a product is being shilled by the writers and actors, they don’t really need a disclaimer at the front of the show to further confuse their obviously stunted minds.
    I like the notion of one advertiser paying for a whole show with one extended spot at the open and one at the close. Leave the Oreos references out of the script and let the show, crap though it likley is, have a few small shreds of decency.
    Rosenthal is right, this is exploitation. And to avoid the coming conflict of writers and producers trying to get their hands on some of that Oreo money in exchange for their “humiliation,” product integration better taper off.

  2. I find the merits of this debate highly questionable. We live in a branded culture. Any good writer or actor can seamlessly weave brands into their work. And let’s remember the venue here–television. It’s not like TV shows are fine art. TV shows themselves are products that have to sell to stay alive.

  3. skyview satellite says:

    I have been, while watching and reading this very interesting discussion, enjoying a piping hot mug of delicious Stumptown Roasters coffee, being careful to leave The Wire logo on my mug visible at all times. I thought I would comment that while The Wire is undoubtedly the best show ever broadcast on American television, they in fact do quite a bit of shilling. As a viewer my primary complaint is that it interrupts the willing suspension of disbelief that makes theatrical narrative so enjoyable. More than just a distraction, it fundamentally changes—hijacks—the aesthetic function of the piece. As a viewer I resent it terribly. But in very few cases, as in The Wire, I admire the art so greatly that I will decline to dignify the commercial interjections with any comment whatsoever. Sometimes I’ll even put my Mac and my Earthlink account to use to watch clips of it on YouTube. It’s that good.

  4. Carl LaFong says:

    TV shows may not be fine art, but that doesn’t mean they should be turned into commercials. The more marketers intrude into every aspect of people’s lives, the more people will tune them out.

  5. If Rosenthal seriously hoped to create change, he failed miserably. He took an opportunity to inspire legislation and turned it into a personal stand-up comedy gig. If ever there was a reason to disregard the actors’ gripes, well, we just saw it.
    Oh, the poor actors whine about product integration; yet the stars of “Everybody Loves Raymond” don’t hesitate for a second to shill for grocery stores and dishwashing liquid, capitalizing on popularity derived from TV characters.
    LaFong is right that people will tune out to intrusive product placement. But that doesn’t mean we need to protest the actions before Congress. Unfortunately, it’s tough to legally stop advertisers and advertising agencies from executing bad ideas. Actors and Hollywood types too.