First there was product placement. Now there's "behavior placement," the planting of subtle messages in popular TV shows to encourage certain viewer behavior — such as healthy eating or eco-conscious habits — and thereby convince sponsors that their brands will be associated with "feel-good, socially aware" shows. NBC has owned up to the practice, reports The Wall Street Journal, as part of its Green Initiative: If "Tina Fey is tossing a plastic bottle into the recycling bin," the theory goes, audience members will be more apt to do the same. Innocuous or "Orwellian"?
This isn't just creepy, it's dumb: The pressure to be eco-conscious has reached a new high, says says Christopher Rosen in Movieline. NBC implies that people are too dumb to make healthy decisions on their own. How "patently stupid." Do viewers really need NBC "telling them how to run their life?"
"NBC thinks you're an idiot, part 56: 'Behavior placement'"
What's the big deal? Despite the hubbub, the principles NBC promotes are "fairly innocuous," says Amy Chozick in the Wall Street Journal. "Climate change may be controversial," but these shows don't make a political statement — they simply show characters making green-conscious decisions. "Most people can agree... [this] is a good thing."
"What your TV is telling you to do"
Unfortunately, healthy habits aren't the bottom line: Clearly, for NBC, behavior placement is about dollar signs and cynicism, says Jon Bershad in Mediaite. The execs' attempts to manipulate their viewers to draw eco-conscious, health-conscious advertisers is "soul-crushing" proof that "everything is a business" these days.
"NBC — Green initiative"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- If Scotland leaves the union, is Northern Ireland next?
- America is doomed! (And other thoughts on our gloomy historical moment.)
- Your 2-year-old doesn't need to go to school
Subscribe to the Week