When brands make a show

> The real­ity in Asia is that pro­grammes need spon­sors but such en­dorse­ments should at­tract and not re­pel their tar­get au­di­ence

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE - S. IN­DRA SATHIABALAN

WHETHER we like it or not, shows pro­duced in Asia for Asian au­di­ences need to plug the prod­ucts of their main spon­sors, or their shows won’t get made.

How­ever, out of the nu­mer­ous real­ity shows out there, per­haps History’s Photo Face-Off (whose third sea­son re­cently con­cluded) has done it best, by not only util­is­ing the main spon­sor’s cam­eras for the en­tire com­pe­ti­tion but also by show­ing viewers (as well as com­peti­tors) how to best use the var­i­ous cam­era mod­els un­der the spon­sor’s brand.

This is un­ob­tru­sive mar­ket­ing be­cause the ma­jor­ity who watch the show are al­ready in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy and, hence, are re­ally in­ter­ested in the in­for­ma­tion given.

But when the host or con­tes­tant is forced to be­come preachy about a prod­uct in an ef­fort to ap­pease the show’s spon­sor, it be­comes some­what dis­taste­ful.

Viewers might also feel that valu­able mo­ments of the show are be­ing wasted on such in-your­face mar­ket­ing and that the host or con­tes­tant is only say­ing what he or she has been told or paid to say.

In such cases, the tar­get au­di­ence the spon­sors hope to cap­ture will likely be tak­ing a bath­room break or walk­ing away to look for snacks.

While spon­sors plug­ging their stuff is a given, it al­ways helps if such mar­ket­ing is done taste­fully or blends seam­lessly into the show, giv­ing the host/ com­peti­tor/ ac­tor a more nat­u­ral outlet to talk about the prod­ucts.

In the case of Life­time Asia’s How Do I Look? Asia hosted by Jean­nie Mai (who is also the host of the US edi­tion), all the clothes to out­fit the poor fash­ion­chal­lenged per­son fea­tured each week come from the same on­line fash­ion store. Hence, its name is men­tioned on the show over and over again.

But, at least, the fash­ion advice that goes with the se­lec­tion of cer­tain pieces of cloth­ing, shoes, ac­ces­sories and hand­bags makes the whole process eas­ier to swal­low.

Not to men­tion, the cute Cau­casian-look­ing de­liv­ery guy who shows up to de­liver the new cloth­ings.

The same can’t be said for History’s other real­ity show Celebrity Car Wars.

On that show, prod­uct en­dorse­ments are some­times done sep­a­rately from the com­pe­ti­tion seg­ments, which can drag down the pace of that en­tire episode.

Hear­ing the host go on and on about the history of the prod­uct and the in­no­va­tion be­hind it re­ally kills the mood.

And most likely, the only thing viewers will re­mem­ber about this se­ries is that the two fe­male com­peti­tors seem de­ter­mined to live up to all the stereo­types about fe­male driv­ers, in­clud­ing not be­ing able to par­al­lel park, or change tyres, or drive a car with a man­ual trans­mis­sion.

Were Joey Mead King and An­drea Fon­seka the only two fe­male celebri­ties they could find for the show?

On that note, I was look­ing for­ward to sea­son five of AXN Asia’s The Amaz­ing Race Asia ( TARA), a show which re­turns to our screens fol­low­ing a six-year hia­tus.

How­ever, reg­u­lar folk who want to be con­tes­tants should give up, as the se­ries now seems to fo­cus on re­cruit­ing mostly beauty queens, mod­els, ra­dio dee­jays, and mi­nor celebri­ties who are all mostly in their 20s.

Ob­vi­ously, the pro­duc­ers of TARA believe Asians will only tune in to watch the young and the beau­ti­ful run around the world.

Then again, spon­sors tend to fo­cus on this group as well. That’s the way things roll, as cash is king.

Real­ity shows like (clock­wise from right) The Amaz­ing Race Asia; Photo Face-Off; Celebrity Car Wars; and How Do I Look? Asia, all have to en­sure their spon­sors are promi­nently on dis­play.

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