Blurring the line : television advertainment in the 1950s and present
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With the rise in product placement and integration on television in recent years, much of the popular press has discussed it as being a new phenomenon, one that has come about as a result of shifts in how audiences view television. As audiences change their viewing practices due to modern technologies such as DVRs and online streaming, product placement has increased in the industry's attempts at still reaching audiences with commercial messages. This thesis seeks to prove that instead of the common current assumption that this increase in product placement on television is a new phenomenon, this surge in blurring the line between advertising and entertainment is actually part of a long history of doing so in American commercial television. Historically, it was very common in the 1950s to have fictional television characters promoting products or to have the product featured as part of the story line in an episode. In fact, I believe the instances are common enough to establish generic expectations from audiences and industry alike. By understanding product placement and other forms of television advertising as part of a genre, it allows for shows like 30 Rock to employ parodic techniques that make their instances of product integration obvious to their viewers. Both the history of advertainment and its generic conventions create a base for current shows to riff off of, thus allowing them to combine entertainment and advertising to please the networks, but acknowledging to their viewers what they are doing and parodying it so as not to alienate them.