Advertisers are using a new technique to trick DVR users and people who mute TV ads into watching their ads. The new ads, called "interstitial ads," "podbusters" or "DVR busters," are designed to look and feel just like the shows viewers are watching. They often feature the same actors, in character, and may use brief, insipid out-takes from the real show to lure unsuspecting viewers into watching them. Advertisers run podbusters late in the show, around the time that cliffhanger-endings are keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Examples of DVR busters include Tina Fey starring in an ad for American Express during her show, 30 Rock, and commercials seen near the end AMC's Mad Men that feature actors from the show in an office environment and wearing 60's fashions, to make people think the show has started again. By the time people realize they are really watching an ad and not the show, the commercial is almost over. Mike Rosen, an executive with a media agency, explains that ads that mimic shows viewers really like help transfer the positive feelings people have about those shows to the products being advertised on them.
Steven Antin's new movie, Burlesque (PG-13), features about twenty different brands of products, including gratuitous use of R.J. Reynolds' Camel cigarettes. Other films that have showcased cigarettes this year include the Disney film The Sorcerer's Apprentice (rated PG, which features Newport cigarettes), and For Colored Girls (rated R, by Lionsgate, which features Marlboros). States are now spending millions to subsidize the production of movies, meaning taxpayers are not only paying to help big companies advertise their products, but they are also helping pay to showcase smoking -- a harmful addiction that many states are simultaneously spending millions to reduce. California taxpayers shelled out $7.2 million to subsidize the movie Burlesque alone, which not only features gratuitous smoking, but also showcases a slew of other brands, including Famous Amos cookies (the character Jack holds a box over his genitals), Dos Equis beer, Michelob, Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Oreos, KitchenAid, Ultimat Vodka, Coldwell Banker, Chase Bank, Patron Tequila and many more.
A poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org has found that the higher amounts of money flowing to the 2010 elections led to a more poorly informed public. The poll, titled "Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the U.S. Electorate," was the first conducted after a national election since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited money to influence U.S. elections. The poll found strong evidence that voters were significantly misinformed on many issues that figured prominently in the 2010 election campaign, including the stimulus legislation, the healthcare reform law, TARP, the state of the economy, climate change, campaign contributions by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President Obama’s birthplace. In most cases, increased exposure to news sources decreased misinformation, but exposure to certain news sources were found to create higher levels of misinformation. For example, people who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely to hold beliefs that are not true, including that their own income taxes have gone up, that most scientists do not believe climate change is occurring, that most economists estimated the new health care reform law will worsen the deficit, that most Republicans opposed the TARP bailout, and that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and cannot legitimately serve as president.
In the weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, the Tea Party and its activities dominated the media, but there was a decided lack of discussion about exactly what the Tea Party is. Major media seemed sold on the idea that the Tea Party is one big homogenous, spontaneous grassroots uprising, but this was not the case. Apart from a single, exhaustive article in the August 30, 2010 edition of The New Yorker (aptly titled "Covert Operations,") that linked the wealthy billionaire Koch Brothers' and their corporate interests to the Tea Party, few media outlets discussed which factions of the movement were truly grassroots, which were corporate-backed, and to what extent corporations supported the "movement."
Here at PRWatch, we strove to tease out the difference between various Tea Party factions, like the GOP-backed Tea Party Express, the grassroots Tea Party Patriots and the for-profit corporation called Tea Party Nation. We found out which factions were getting the big money, who their PR operatives were, what types of PR tricks they were engaging in, and more.
Back when he was a reporter for the Washington Post, Juan Williams wrote a short piece about group perceptions for a social psychology course. At issue was the question of what dangerous people look like, and when and under what circumstances -- if ever -- people are justified in being nervous around people of other races.
Fox News Channel turned a brief investigation of a flashlight found on the Brooklyn Bridge into a potential terrorist attack by the Pakistani Taliban, and then later dismissed the whole affair as though it didn't happen.
Netflix kicked off the introduction of its streaming-entertainment service into Canada by closing off a street in downtown Toronto and holding a splashy media event. Excited people thronged the street, but journalists were unaware that many of the people were "extras," hired and paid by Netflix to act like excited consumers.