HBO Mirrors Real Life With Unpaid Product Placement
Because it can afford to, product placements on HBO are not paid and are their appearance are left entirely up to the show's writers.
"People are skeptical and just think there's got to be dollars for some of those placements," said Mitch Litvak, president of the entertainment marketing firm the L.A. Office. "I think there have been some really great placements on HBO programming, which makes people think they're too good to be true, but at the same time the placements are all very true to the programming and bring more realism to the show."
HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson explains the network's position. "We're commercial-free. Paid product placement is an equivalent business transaction to a commercial. If someone is paying for our service, they are paying for a commercial-free service, so they shouldn't be getting pitched product."
While many of HBO's product placement may have seem staged such as Nissan Exterra's appearance on The Sporanos or TiVo's appearance on Sex And The City, they are purely organic. HBO Executive Producer Ilene Landress says the placement simply mirror real life saying, "Where all this comes from is real life. This is the way people speak. I know nobody wants to believe it's as pure and simple as it is, but it really is that pure and simple."
If only broadcast networks, who go out of their way to hide natural brand placement to protect their business model, were so lucky.