Companies starring in TV shows: PR gold or a very big gamble?

If your organisation was offered its very own TV show, it might seem too good to be true. But would accepting be a savvy PR move or a dreadful error of judgement?

Companies gaining exposure in this way is certainly not uncommon. Teen Vogue and Diane Von Furstenberg featured as workplaces for the stars of MTV’s The Hills, the Google offices ‘starred’ in the recent movie The Internship, and now Tatler has opened its doors for BBC2’s Posh People: Inside Tatler.

Source: theguardian.com

The Internship, Source: theguardian.com

While we all probably had an inkling that Google would be an incredible place to work before The Internship showed us sleep pods, Google bikes and unlimited free food, the movie certainly helped to cement the assumption that working there would be atypical and inspirational.

I was left feeling far less positive when I caught a glimpse of Posh People: Inside Tatler last night. It felt to me that Tatler was struggling to portray itself clearly through the show – something I’ve never felt about this brand before. The production team seemed to want to show you that Tatler isn’t for everyone – you’d probably have got this just from the title – but the people who work there seemed to want to prove just how down-to-earth they are.

While either side may broaden the magazine’s readership for a few issues, the risk to the company’s credibility that is being brought about by the struggle between the show’s two aims could prove to be costly. Presenting a clear, consistent and compelling message is typically marketing priority number one, after all.

So, if it ever becomes an option for you to reveal all on TV or the big screen, make sure you retain as much control over the direction, production and final edit as you can. If you relinquish control – which you may have to unless you can bankroll it yourself – it could cause irreparable damage to your brand.

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2 thoughts on “Companies starring in TV shows: PR gold or a very big gamble?

  1. staceynworkman says:

    I’m a PR student in Oregon and I was wondering what your thoughts might be on product placement in film and tv from a PR perspective? It’s on a much smaller scale, but similar to the companies starring. I don’t think that it can influence a company as much as Google was influenced from the movie (because they played a much larger role)… But in some small way there might be a connection. Do you think that the companies need to be as diligent with gaining control over product placement in the direction so that there isn’t any potential brand damage? Just something that came to mind. Let me know what you think! Thank you!

    • Product placement is a fascinating subject and plays a big part in many popular TV shows such as House of Cards and Breaking Bad. Done well, I think it’s a fantastic TV and movie advertising tool (I doubt PR agencies are convincing producers to include their products for free) – but it can put viewers off, too. I remember watching Casino Royale for the first time and being really distracted by the overt placement of Sony products. Yes, companies who are paying to have their products placed in TV shows and films should ensure that they are portrayed in the best possible light so that they get the best return for their investment. I think product placement is an area that will only continue to grow – especially since so many of us simply fast-forward straight through all ad breaks now.

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