Sears Stars in Your Show of Shows

At last, the Golden Age of television is upon us again! But, alas, this is not the golden age of TV quality -- but literally the age of TV gold, when advertisers have become the programming.

Leading the way is the Disney's ABC television network, which has now opened its expanse of our public airwaves to complete domination by sponsors. I don't mean just the ads that sponsors run on its shows, or even the not-so-subtle placement of sponsors' products in the shows -- but rather sponsors that become the featured character of the show.

Sears has stepped out as the first of ABC's new advertising stars, putting itself forward as the centerpiece of the network's latest reality show called "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Not that Sears has any actual dramatic talent -- but it does have more than a million dollars that it has paid to ABC to write the corporation into the script of this six-part series portraying stories of home renovation.

The actual actors will be using Sears tools in their work, adding Sears appliances to the renovated homes, and decorating with Sears furniture. If that's too subtle for viewers, there'll also be Sears trucks delivering merchandise, branded workers from Sears home improvement centers will occasionally arrive on the scene, and the show's cast will make trips to Sears for supplies.

The commercially-crass rationale for this All Sears Show is that advertisers need a way to outfox you TV viewers who're using your clickers to zap past those annoying commercial breaks. So forget the ads, the sponsors will be the show.

To fabricate this great leap forward in TV entertainment, ABC even has a "senior vice president for integrated marketing and promotion." He assures us that while "Sears plays a role in the personality of the show," ABC would "never take it to the point where it would seem like a bunch of logos slapped in a show."

See, there still are a few artistic standards in television.


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