Having been subjected to multiple viewings of Masterchef in recent times, I’ve come to notice just how prevalent product placement is in this show (obvious in hindsight). I would argue that it is not even a ‘reality’ show about cooking, but rather a 2 hour long infomercial advertising sponsored products.
Furthermore, the products are displayed with all the subtlety of a punch in the face. It is blatant, and so you’d expect for the supposed 3 million plus sponsors fork out to have their products featured. The only possible exemption appears to be Qantas, who in return for providing their services (which help the show get made), get free billing on the show.
I must admit it’s a brilliant piece of marketing, the cooking is almost secondary, a by-product of the combined advertised products. Commercial break ads are pre-booked in advance and are pricey but with the advent of digital recorders which allow people to fast forward through ads, advertising within the show is even more valuable.
This also raises a question of integrity. If this ‘reality’ show is about professional cooking with real industry chefs providing ‘Master classes’, then shouldn’t all the products and ingredients be the best/industry standard? The fact that the products, equipment and ingredients used are just those made by the highest bidder tarnishes this concept.
You can tell if they use anything that’s not a sponsored product pretty easily. It won’t be name checked, featured prominently or get its own unsubtle hero shot that’s woven into the episode. The other interesting issue is competing sponsors. Fremantle Media who make Masterchef have a relationship with Qantas, but channel 10 has a deal with Virgin. This has led to some careful juggling of ads and placement during the series.
All in all I must say it is a brilliantly marketed show. It is also well produced (still not as good as Top Gear though, the editing in that show is phenomenal) and I believe the most successful incarnation of the Masterchef concept (ratings and revenue).
Posted by Cam