Friday, September 22, 2006

Product Placement Meets Poker World on CBS

Product placement in movies and TV is one of those long-standing traditions that dates all the way back to the 1920's, when advertising execs first grasped the idea that these new mediums could help increase a given product's visibility, along with an implied endorsement, even if nothing specific was ever said. Most people know the most famous big-screen examples, from James Bond's Astin Martin to Austin Powers's nod-'n'-a-wink bit with Pizza Hut, from the Marlboro-puffing aliens in Men In Black to one of the all-time beauts, the Reese's Pieces used to bait and trap E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.

TV's the same story, most prevalent in the pre-packed foods you'll see lining the kitchen tables and fridge tops of sitcoms across the land. If it's not that, it's those living-room and business-office walls are always filled with old movie and concert posters and other commercial art --- there are a couple of firms that market that stuff exclusively, and purchasing placement spots is one of their main advertising streams.

I mean, an old Plan 9 From Outer Space poster is cool, but only on TV does anyone over the age of 25 find it a useful part of living-room decor.

It was only a matter of time until the burgeoning poker world would see product placement as a means of attracting visibility, and while it may have occurred previously, I haven't seen any mention of it, and I only noticed it myself this Monday past. The show was "Two and a Half Men" on CBS, where the Charlie Sheen character, Charlie Harper, chews up the better part of a long living-room scene, reading a very upright and prominently displayed Card Player as he trades witty rejoinders with his brother, Alan (Jon Cryer).

Judging by the length and blatancy of the pimp, Card Player ponied up some good bucks for this ad buy. And in case you're wondering, they went the easy-to-recognize route for the cover photo as well, choosing the recent Doyle Brunson cover pictured above.

I'm not surprised by it, of course; I just think it's rather neat. It's certainly an improvement over CP's ham-handed "Where in the World?" monthly feature, where readers lug their beloved CP to all sorts of ridiculous spots, a schtick that still has fathoms to go before catching the once-popular "XXXX miles to Wall Drug" or Burma-Shave signs on America's all-time list of stupid, commercial-driven fads. Ever been to Wall, South Dakota, home of the aformentioned uber-cheesy tourist trap? Hey, if you're on way to the Black Hills (with a stop at a Deadwood cardroom always an option), then the quick detour into Wall is really something you ought to do. And then hit the oppposite side of the interstate for the trip into the Badlands, just to clear your head.

Serious poker content? Not today, not today. But check back soon.



(Image sources: cardplayer.com, walldrug.com)

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