Creepy: Reruns Edited Digitally to Include New Ads
July 6, 2011

Although “virtual advertising” — the process of digitally superimposing ads and inserting products into television shows — has been used since 2002, I hadn’t realized how widespread it was. The Consumerist has a recent example from reruns of How I Met Your Mother. On the left, a piece of the scene as it appears on the DVD set. On the right, with a digitally added “magazine ad” for an upcoming movie.

How I Met Your Mother 1How I Met Your Mother 2

As more consumers control their viewing experience, including using DVRs to skip ads, I fear more of this “you can’t escape it, we’ll edit whatever we want” attitude will attempt to force us to pay attention to marketing messages.

5 Responses  
Jer writes:  

I question … well, I question everything about this.

How is this supposed to work? Is this supposed to be subliminal advertising at work? If so, do the folks who are paying for these digital insertions understand that subliminal advertising has never been proven to be effective and the early experimental results that “everyone knows” worked were, in fact, fake? I just don’t see how this is supposed to work.

Product placement worked into the scripts worries me. Product placement where non-distracting background elements are altered to display updated ads just make me go “WTF – who wastes money on crap like that.”

And no amount of advertising – subliminal, liminal, or supraliminal – will convince me to go see Kevin James in “The Zookeeper”. I had to sit through a trailer for that when I took my kid to the movies the other week and let’s just say even the four year old didn’t think it looked good.

Greg Manuel writes:  

Yeaaah, uhm…that’s a little gross.

Thad writes:  

Remember how frequently they used to go to Chili’s in the first couple seasons of The Office?

And I remember an episode of Father of the Pride where the entire B story revolved around Siegfried and Roy going to 7-11 to get a Slurpee. Seriously.

Course, the most obviously foolish thing about editing product placement into reruns is it’s one more excuse for people to grab a torrent. But that logistical problem aside, product placement in TV shows has been on the rise for a decade and you’re right, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

James Schee writes:  

Are they sure it’s the same scene? I’m wondering why her shirts color is different.

Johanna writes:  

Bad reproduction between one person’s screen cap and another’s DVD screen, I think. The shirt color varies as much as the color of her face. Thad, I didn’t know those examples, but they sound like Chuck’s dependence on Subway and the way they had a whole dialogue scene on Bones about the cool features of the new car they’d just gotten. (Showing how effective this was: I have no idea what car or brand it was.) But there is a key difference: those are obvious to the viewer, in terms of how blatant they are. That first link, to virtual advertising, has more examples of just plugging something into the background.


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