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
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.