NBC Thinks You're An Idiot, Part 56: 'Behavior Placement'


Remember that episode of The Office from earlier this season when Dwight dressed as some made-up superhero named Recyclops and the entire thing felt like some contrived and not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to get you to recycle more? It was! And with Earth Day just around the corner, don't be surprised to see another appearance. Lest you think movies are the only place where rampant product placement has run amok, the pioneers of idiocy at NBC Universal have taken things one step further. Say hello to behavior placement.

According to an article today in the Wall Street Journal, NBC uses this technique "to sway viewers to adopt actions they see modeled in their favorite shows." Think of it as a less intrusive version of product placement: Tina Fey's Liz Lemon doesn't eat Doritos, but she does separate her recyclables. That sound you heard was Glenn Beck's head exploding.

Anyway, the entire concept feels icky and gross -- NBC practices in progressive stereotyping as "viewers are broken into categories based on their favorite shows and their level of concern about the environment: 'Alpha ecos" are mostly women who drive hybrids, eat organic and watch the Bravo channel" -- but also patently stupid. Does anyone need NBC, of all entities, telling them how to run their life?

That said, don't worry about "behavior placement" becoming a trend. CBS, ABC and Fox have yet to implement it, content instead to stick with what works: awkwardly jamming products into their television shows and making people want to buy them. Now that's television the way it ought to be.

· NBC Shows Send Signals to Recycle, Exercise and Eat Right [WSJ]


  • The Cantankerist says:

    NBC, trumpeting the virtues of recycling.
    ...Nah, too easy.

  • Don Hawkins says:

    Just had on Fox New’s Fox and friends. At about 6:20 this morning real TV. Ask somebody what just happened that saw it yes I think it’s starting to happen. Calm at peace I think not. Living a lie as the wall’s come tumbling down who you going to call? Somebody is in trouble over there at Fox and it look’s like the crew tried a little free speech out and somebody is on the phone right now with the penguin. You tube maybe will have it. The crew the man that trying the free speech out might have said to himself enough is enough. A tickertape parade for the man the crew starting at Fox New's and flip the old peace sign.

  • Don Hawkins says:

    Over 200 years ago human beings began burning large quantities of the coal, oil and natural gas that had been buried under the Earth’s surface for hundreds of millions of years. This may eventually come to be seen as the most fatal misstep in the history of humankind. Robert Manne
    Yes there are a few other missteps. Go to your left your right your left, foolishness.

  • Martini Shark says:

    Now is Michael Weston constantly eating yogurt on "Burn Notice" a product placement from the dairy council, or a social message on eating healthy from HHS wonks?

  • Biff says:

    Is this really new? I feel like this is been going on for years. I remember back in the 90's reading about how movie studios were pushing filmmakers to insert shots of their characters buckling their seat belts every time they got into a car.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Yeah, what Don Hawkins said! The penguin and the fox! Tickertape parade! Peace sign! Dinosaurs! Left-Right... Yeah, man, yeah!

  • Dee says:

    Dear Writer,
    You must be very naive to think this is a new practice. Nearly every corporation tries to affect your consumer behavior every day. Every print ad, every commercial, 24/7. You're seeing more product placement now because ad revenues are down and companies are going old-school in their approach.
    It's called marketing. Take a chill pill and try to think critically and analytically before you make purchasing decisions if you're uncomfortable with it. It isn't exactly mind control.
    Dear Gawd, Liz Lemon might influence people to recycle! God forbid!

  • Poe says:

    Christopher Rosen thinks we're stupid. Is NBC telling us how to live our lives by showing their characters doing responsible things? Since "The Office" told me how to behave at my office, I haven't done a single productive act as I do crossword puzzles at work (thanks, Stanley), prank my desk neighbors (like Jim!), and flirt with the receptionist (Andy's my idol). Community inspired me to go back to school (I only take Spanish and hang out in study groups), Biggest Loser inspired me to gain weight to look like the contestants and Who Do You Think You Are forces me to travel the globe and ask librarians to look up my last name.
    NBC clearly thinks we're stupid, like the advertisers who pay for commercials which fund the shows, activists who complain about smoking, sex, or violence in shows, and the Movieline blogger who thinks that showing someone recycling is worse than selling an unhealthy product.

  • Nat says:

    The network's today want you to feel dumb. Why else would they produce the level of programming seen today? Case closed.

  • Mary says:

    I'm confused. How is this bad?
    Or NBC thinking I'm an idiot?
    Seems to me, NBC is making a conscious effort to use its mainstream influence and mass visibility to encourage behaviors that benefit the greater good and our overall quality of life.
    Remember when Hollywood producers decided to show less smoking on screen? That simple step has led to a HUGE decrease in teen smoking adoption. Now smoking numbers are down overall. I don't see why subtly encouraging people to do better for the planet is a bad thing?
    And lets be honest, its MUCH better than those awful celebrity Public Service Announcements. I give NBC kudos!

  • Denis Linero says:

    Yes exercising will burn calories, but it can take a lot of exercise to burn even a small snack.