cream: cash rules every thing around me

What is wrong with a little bit of synergy? | May 31, 2010

by Brian White

Throughout the duration of this course, we have discussed the existence of synergy and its place in the media. As an advertising major, I have had to come to grips with its existence and determine to what extent am I “ok” with it. Well, to answer that plainly I would have to say I am perfectly “ok” with it. Normally, I am not the kind of person who gives in to the, “Deal with it, there is nothing you can do about it,” type of attitude, but in this case I think that’s exactly what you have to do.
Coke-Placement
We look to the infamous American Idol show for one of the most obvious placements of a product: Coke. As the consumer, I have a decision. Am I really going to believe that all that’s in Paula’s cup is Coke? We know better than that.The same can be said of NBA games. Are they really drinking Gatorade? I think the question should be, “does it really make a difference?” I suppose I am more concerned about the effects these product placements have on the more impressionable minds of adolescents, but really I’m not too worried. People should be able to see through these ads and maybe even to the point of being upset by them. We all know its not Gatorade, just like we know Marcin Gortat loves Jordan.

When Reebok flips the bill, Jordan tat has gotta go... at least that

In Gortat’s case, he told Reebok where they can “put” their complaints thus giving Jordan brand and Nike some free publicity, but what does Coke or Gatorade get for their placements? Sure there is some brand awareness and some product association, but how much product consumption does that really drive? In 2008 NBC teamed up with Universal in a different kind of cross-promotional campaign linking NBC network shows with the Universal movie Hellboy 2. The concept was to use NBC show commercial formats and insert the main character from Hellboy.

This instance is a pairing of two of General Electric’s major interests NBC and Universal. The primary objective was to advertise for Hellboy 2 , but as a secondary goal General Electric decided to also promote its network. This is the prime example of “two birds with one stone” or three if the commercials were to air on any GE owned channel. And what is wrong with this kind of synergy? My answer remains, but it does lead us down a slippery slope.

I think it is safe to say that although some cross-promotional advertising is ok, not all of it receives a pass. When it comes to product placement in television or cross-promotional commercials, my interest is hardly peaked, but when it comes to synergy in news broadcasts my concern grows.

Sometimes I have more faith in the "fake news" shows than in anything else.

Given the potential new deal with Comcast, critics worry the cross-promotion could become a problem. The coverage of this merger has been fairly sparse and some have theorized it is because of GE’s ability to shield the news. According the a report done by FAIR, in 2000 61 percent of investigative reporters felt pressure to either report or not report on certain issues pertaining to stakeholders and advertisers of companies related to their outlet. This is an interesting and scary statistic when you consider how and who you trust to get your news.

When all is said and done, how do you feel about synergy? Is it as innocent and straightforward as product placement of coke products in a sitcom or is it an attempt to use a corporations media outlets to cover up an embarrassing scandal? I think synergy is something that everyone needs to be aware of. Like all things, one must be skeptical of the potential intentions and benefits a company may have for portraying things, but I cannot say that all synergy is bad. Just some.

LA Times
FAIR – How Power Shapes the News
synergyBlog
Illinois Business Law
Reuters on FCC
Ad Age
NBC + Comcast Merge
Hellboy gets NBC backing
synergy in the movies

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Advertising Student at the University of Oregon interested in becoming a writer...

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