"donuts donuts" on ER and other subliminal messages

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Regarding product placement on ER - I noticed during a few episodes this year, and during the reruns, that there will be a box or a bag of donuts that someone will have and it looks like the same logo & lettering and colors for Dunkin' Donuts, but it says "donuts donuts."

Considering the other product placement they have had, I wonder why they don't just go ahead and use a real Dunkin' Donuts bag. Anyway, the product placement doesn't really bother me when it seems realistic (examples: Lizzie was drinking a bottle of Snapple in one episode, people drinking Starbucks coffee or a can of Diet Coke, a box of Shredded Wheat on the refrigerator, etc.) Because that seems like stuff that real-life people would use, anyway. But sometimes it's more obvious, like when Tess (or Kate) was wearing the Baby Gap cap in "Such Sweet Sorrow." Or the Apple i-Book from earlier this season. (Really - where would a cash strapped hospital like County General come up with the extra cash for an i-Book!!!)

Also, I have noticed the subliminal message posters on the walls. (Not that these are bad, but they are just so obvious!) Like the AIDS walk posters, the Donate Blood posters, the "truth about smoking might just kill you" poster that is always in the elevator, the poster that says "Right decisions" in the corner. (That one was also on the wall in the courthouse in an episode of Judging Amy recently!) Anyway, I just wondered if anyone else noticed these and what you think. The posters, especially, always seem to be strategically placed at the right camera angle so the audience will notice them.

-- Melanie (msintn@hotmail.com), May 17, 2000


I don't really feel that they are too obvious. I mean of course Carol would want her kids to be in style (who doesn't?) and let's face it, baby GAP is in style. I don't see anything wrong name brands. As for the posters, I've been in several hospitals and posters such as these are posted everywhere.

-- dena (dtucker73@yahoo.com), May 17, 2000.

Hospitals and doctors' offices do have posters, so I've never found that odd. One of the Ross girls wearing a Baby GAP hat is certainly not odd, since Carol has a great sense of style and seems to dress her babies in style, as well.

-- Arianne (CarolRossSusanGreene@yahoo.com), May 17, 2000.

I think the posters that they have placed in the hospital are very realistic. Hospitals all over the place have public health awareness posters as do schools. Most of the product placement on ER is realistic, I think. As mentioned above, why wouldn't Carol have her kids in Baby Gap...she is a very stylish lady. (Or maybe the outfit was a gift sent by Doug). As for the Apple, alot of computer companies have programs where they supply things like that to hospitals, schools, libraries, etc. I do agree that some of it does stand out...in SSS Carol goes to the fridge in the lounge and gets out a Pepsi and takes a big swig (it was obvious because it was a profile shot so you got a really good look at the can). My husband even commented "I wonder how much Pepsi paid for that shot" There used to be a rule about not showing any "real" products on tv shows and movies (they even did a spoof of this in Wayne's World) but you see it all the time now. As for the Dunkin' Donuts...I have no idea why they wouldn't use the real thing. I would think Dunkin Donuts would love to have their product shown on ER!

-- amanda (amanda.rehm@home.com), May 17, 2000.

It's called Product Placement and I know in movies you have to get permission (and sometimes pay) for using brand name products. That's why alot of times you'll see actors cover brand names with their hands or other items. Paying for Product Placement became very popular when "Back to the Future" came out. PepsiCo made a big deal in advertising that their product was in movie; you can see Michael J. Fox subtely promoting their products several times.

It's possible 'Dunkin Donut's' didn't give permission to use their product, though I wouldn't know why in order to get free advertising on the most watched drama on TV.

-- AmyE (roamyn@aol.com), May 17, 2000.

I notice that too. I volunteered at a hospital once though, and seeing "health" posters on walls all over the place is quite normal. In the ER where I worked, there were a million pamphlet posters educating people about diseases like AIDS, Lupus, the Flu and even some disgusting :) things like warts and moles. And there were tons of promotional stuff for AIDS/ Cancer/ Breast Cancer/ CF walks, and like a gazillion posters urging people to donate blood. ANd there were so many things about eating healthy, diabetes testing etc. So I think it's quite realistic that the ER lounge, admit desk, whatever would show these kinds of posters. And you know, when you're working on a set, using these posters and other knick knacks make it really authentic.

-- samira (matb_west@chickmail.com), May 17, 2000.

I know the posters are probably realistic things to have in a hosital, but on ER I think they are also PARTLY meant as messages for the audience, mostly because of the way they are placed in the camera angles. As an example, there was a TNT rerun recently where Mark was telling Loretta that she had cervical cancer, and right in-between their heads on the wall was a poster about doing breast exams. And sometimes there are scenes where the characters will be talking in the hall or something, and right behind their shoulder will be a poster. Not that this is a bad thing, but I just think it's kind of funny because it seems to me like they are strategically placed in the camera angle.

Like the episode I mentioned earlier with Dr. Corday and the bottle of Snapple on the table - the label was directly facing the camera! I know advertisers pay the shows money to do this, and I guess on ER they can probably use all the extra money they can get, considering how much it costs to film one episode! Also I don't think there was a Gap commercial during last week's episode of ER and they almost always have Gap ads on during ER. So I'm guessing Gap paid for the baseball cap to appear on Tess's (or Kate's?) head instead.

-- Melanie (msintn@hotmail.com), May 17, 2000.

I'm from chicago and I also noticed a few well known "chicago favorites." When Luka and Benton were at the school there two very well placed billboards for the Chicago Tribune and Giordano's Pizzeria. Way to go Chicago!

-- mimi (mimi0428@aol.com), May 20, 2000.

Every time I see the donuts donuts I just laugh :D It sounds so funny. In the first season I think there are a few episodes with MET-RX boxes all over the place, in scenes with Peter. I always thought Gee if I eat this stuff I'll have as much energy as he does :). The posters are good to have around and make a balance with all the product placement, which IMO is getting out of hand. It's fine to drink Pepsi or Snapple but when the label is Right There its intrusive.

-- May (archerl@cadvision.com), May 20, 2000.

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