Over on NewTeeVee, there is a very thorough accounting of every single product placement, mention and inference that occurred in last weeks Project Runway. I’ll let you check out the post for the details but the final tally is 106 occurrences at an average rate of 2.5/minute.
Now, at first glance one might say, “Dear lord, this is disgusting! How much can one person take!” Well, it turns out that if the show itself is actually compelling and entertaining, we can take that and probably a whole lot more. Project Runway has been critically quite well received (you can search for reviews yourself, I’m not google) and has had a steady, dedicated audience over many seasons.
I would argue that viewers are constantly doing a relatively subconscious mental calculation in which they are analyzing the entertainment-to-shilling ratio of the program they are watching. As long as the entertainment is “good” enough we accept the product placement, even when it is as blatant (and, at times, not so blatant) as it is on PR. It is only when viewers sense that they are getting more “sell” than actual entertainment that various backlashes occur.
And as we all know, the internet loves a backlash.