SOBER SESSION: Talk Show Product Placement


One of the funniest and most well-received staples of The Ellen DeGeneres Show are the various games she plays. Audience members squeal ecstatic cries of joy and spastically scramble out of their seats when their names are called to participate. They’re so excited at the thought that they’re playing for the chance to win a fabulous prize that the blatant product placement is lost on them. This season the real stars of the games are Samsung and Beats by Dre.

Two of her go-to games are “Beats Me, That’s a Humdinger” (presented by AT&T) and blindfolded “Musical Beats.” While both games are entertaining to watch – and I’m sure to play as well – they also both blatantly promote Beats by Dre, and also plug Samsung as well, since the app is available for Samsung phones and the company has partnered with the talk show host by providing giveaway items in exchange for publicity and sponsorship.

Similarly, product placement is seen in segments she calls live commercials, where she has her producers participate in skits that highlight the appeals of certain products sponsored by the show. She has done live commercials for products like Listerine, Food Should Taste Good chips, California Almonds and Duracell. Companies like Shutterfly and JC Penney also sponsor the donations she gives to people in need, as well as online contests.

Recently, Ellen’s loyalty to Samsung has been called into question recently after rumors have surfaced surrounding her Oscar tweets. While she took her record-breaking, Twitter-crashing selfie on her Samsung Galaxy Note 3, almost half of her Oscar-night Twitpics were uploaded with the stamp “via Twitter for iPhone.” While an interesting observation, there could be another explanation for this besides sponsor betrayal. Those pictures could have been taken by one of her writers or producers, who were all backstage with her, as seen in the behind-the-scenes video the show posted.


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