Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Seamless integration of advertising and prime time sitcom

Have you heard the news? The GEICO Cavemen are going prime-time. ABC announced that the commercial characters will become the basis for a sitcom. This represents, I think, a great example of “seamless integration,” which refers to the ways in which advertisers work their products into movies, music and television. Think BMW Minis and The Italian Job. From a theoretical viewpoint the intertextual nature of this shift between advertising and prime time television represents the ways in which texts and images bleed as media cross contaminate. I think this would also qualify as an example of convergence culture where the text (advertisement) from one form converges with that of another form (the prime time sitcom). I have written elsewhere about what I think is the importance of the depiction in advertising of men as cavemen (along with the depiction of men as wolves and men caught in public with their pants down) and the implications of this depiction for American culture and society. From a critical perspective, I’m not too thrilled with this latest move. But the lighthearted side of me can’t wait to see those crazy cavemen make their way through all the social awkwardness that prime-time television can muster. This isn’t the first time commercial characters have made the leap into prime time as "Baby Bob" and The California Raisons both of commercial fame, for a brief time, entered the hallowed halls of network television.