‘Modern Family’s’ Apple-Centric Episode is Product Integration at its Best — and Great TV

JULIE BOWEN, ED O'NEILL, ADAM DEVINE, SARAH HYLAND, TY BURRELL

Product integration has become unavoidable in TV and film as advertisers desperately try to reach those viewers who routinely skip past commercials. And while viewers endure most of it as a necessary evil, every once in a great while, there’s a truly brilliant combination of product and program. And that what’s happened in tonight’s Modern Family, which features possibly the best product integration of all time: the entire episode is told through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro, and the apps she uses to communicate with her family. As I wrote at Quartz,

In the context of the plot, Apple’s apps, and their familiar sound effects, are as much a part of the action as Claire and the rest of her boisterous family are. FaceTime, Messaging, Safari, iTunes, Reminders, iPhoto and even the iCloud all make appearances at one time or another, but non-Apple apps like Facebook, Instagram and Google also get some screen time. The result is an episode that’s incredibly effective and very funny, without ever actually seeming like an ad. In part, that’s because—surprise!—Apple didn’t pay a cent to be involved. Instead, the idea came from Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan, who co-wrote and directed the episode. Levitan was inspired in part by a FaceTime chat with one of his college-age daughters. “This came from life and it made sense,” Levitan told the Associated Press.

Best of all, because there’s no quid pro quo, the episode is devoid of the usual nonsense that accompanies almost all product placement. You can read much more about the episode, and how it validates a vow that Levitan made to me last summer, here.

‘Modern Family’s’ Apple-centric episode is product placement at its best — and great TV

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