Coffee in Movies and Television: Product Placement worth succumbing to…?

Blue Bloods: Can someone please grab me a skinny Cappuccino?!

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“I’m gonna be off my head, off my nut…and off Cronin coffee!” Bob Hope: The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Being a fan of many an intense television drama series, I am often perplexed by the ability of an episode to entice me into yearning for an advertised product. The marketing strategy is faultless. A show earning revenue from a well-known brand, paying for the privilege of product placement can advertise their merchandise with a slight of hand with enough impetus to tempt you into the store the very next day.

I have encountered many a series guilty of this often shameless advertising, the biggest culprit being the Tom Selleck fronted Blue Bloods. The New York based police drama series boasts a plethora of acting talent from the aforementioned Selleck to Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan. The series follows the Reagan clan, an entire family of police officers devoted to the cause, going about their daily routines, fighting crime and righting all wrongs with dark seeded undertones eluding to a constant crusade to keep the streets of New York safe.

Blue Bloods (Photo: CBS)

The series, which gleefully shows no signs of stopping is now enjoying its seventh season but as invested as I am in the intensely dramatic storylines and complexities of the family dynamic amidst the heavyset politics of New York police commissioning, I am finding the product placement hard to resist. At any one time, Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), a street wise and rugged detective, together with his Latino partner can be seen drinking take-out coffee from one of the high street chains. We hardly ever get the chance to see exactly where these hot beverages originate from but regardless of their vendor, a delicious hot coffee is never too far away.

Now before I continue, this is not a criticism. Far be it for me to critique a series I propose to love, that would be hypocritical. In truth, I am a self-confessed coffee addict and…I can live with that. I never seem to be far away from a coffee outlet and actively seek out the best chains to appease my craving. Now, to be clear…my addiction is not to the fatty toffee nut latte’s that seem to be popping up at every outlet the world over, my tastes are simple…a fine skinny cappuccino will suffice. To paraphrase Twin Peaks, there is nothing like “a damn fine cup of coffee” and regardless of the scenario, a coffee is never too far away. Whether I’m socially meeting friends, visiting family or just heading off to the cinema, a coffee is at the forefront of my thinking.

But I digress, back to Blue Bloods and if the coffee enticement wasn’t enough, many home-based sequences with Tom Selleck, whilst seeking advice from his father (a former police commissioner in his own right) find him holding a glass of the finest single malt whiskey. Now, I’m not that much of a drinker since a massive change in lifestyle which helped me to lose 9 stones in excess weight but, even I have been charmed by the allure of a warming glass of single malt to thwart the side effects of the cold winter nights. Adding these enticements to the regular Sunday family meal, a traditional roast dinner with all the trimmings and we have a recipe for deliciousness. With my self-confessed love of caffeine aside, I have been fascinated to determine the effects on viewers who are not so inclined. The incessant debate pertaining to the moral implications of product placement and their well-publicised methods are known to cause friction amongst both supporters and pessimists alike, but from my singular perspective…I cannot see the harm in a chain directing my judgement towards a product I admit to adoring.

My opinions vary from product to product, as I’m sure do yours and the marketing strategy is tailor made to reach us all on some level with a wide range of endorsed products for us to choose from. We are all elicited by them on some level, whether subconsciously or intentionally and I suppose our opinions are swayed by our likes and dislikes of the product in question. Whether these cause side-effects like obesity and diabetes is a stronger dilemma to ponder, especially when it is promoted by the likes of McDonald’s whose products seem to be advertised on a wide range of mediums like television, the cinema screen and billboards across the world.

McDonald’s Logo

Fortunately, I am not so inclined to frequent such establishments but I cannot deny the undeniable allure to the average patron walking the high streets. Until these debates are addressed, the arguments will continue but, one thing is undeniable…product placement is inescapable. With Blue Bloods reflecting our modern culture, it exposes the viewer to many of the harsh truths of our society, the growing market for coffee addiction at the pinnacle. Recent statistics support the market growth which is increasing exponentially by the day and with our tastes yearning for a constant caffeine fix, there is no end in sight for our television screens to suggest new products and delicacies at will.

From a coffee addicts point of view, I welcome the tirade of overwhelming coffee flavours that seem to be flooding the market, when all things are considered I usually keep to the status quo and order my traditional skinny cappuccino and that will probably never change. But, if such addictions transcend to fatty foods and cause adverse effects like obesity then more regulations need to be put into practice.

Until then, I’m off to watch this week’s Blue Bloods…best get the cappuccino’s ready…and the occasional Belgian bun wouldn’t go amiss either.

Happy viewing.

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