Sometimes my Quartz stories migrate over its sister site, The Atlantic. That happened again today with yesterday’s Quartz piece about Modern Family’s brilliant Apple product integration, which was picked up today by The Atlantic.
The story got an excellent response yesterday (and this morning) from Quartz readers, so I’m thrilled that it will get new life today. And if you haven’t be sure to watch the “Connection Lost” episode if you haven’t already!
Modern Family Shows How to Do Product Integration Right
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
TV & Not TV, back on TV! I returned to CNBC’s Squawk Alley this morning to discuss my latest Quartz story on The Interview’s big first four days online. Here’s a clip from the segment:
It was a pleasure as always chatting with Carl Quintanilla and the team.
Shaking up Hollywood’s VOD model
Sony has released the VOD numbers for The Interview — and they are impressive. The movie earned more than $15 million during its first four days on the internet, and was rented or purchased more than 2 million times. Yet despite this seemingly terrific news, the long-term Interview forecast is still bleak for Sony, as I explained at Quartz:
By making those day-and-date internet video deals, Sony has also lost out on the additional VOD revenue that would have come 90 days or so after the film’s theatrical release—which means that its chances of making back The Interview’s estimated $75 million budget are exceedingly slim. The film’s online success might be a qualified moral victory for Sony, but it definitely won’t be a financial one—and that’s even before calculating the significant financial fallout from the hacking scandal, which could be as much as $100 million.
I also detail the other big Interview winners and losers from the past week, including Google, Apple and Netflix.
‘The Interview’ was a huge online success — but more for Google than for Sony
Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is in talks with Comcast to team up for a new streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box. At Quartz, I suggested four ways that Apple could make a splash and make its new service instantly better than Netflix. For starters, Use the Force:
In 2010, Apple finally landed exclusive digital rights to the Beatles catalog. Now, it should aggressively pursue the holy grail of exclusive movie digital rights: the Star Wars films, which still have yet to be released via any digital platform. (Remember, Lucasfilm is now owned by Disney, whose chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, sits on Apple’s Board of Directors.) Using the films to launch Apple’s streaming service, especially as anticipation builds toward the next Star Wars film, due out in December 2015, would be reason enough for many viewers to immediately get on board.
Assuming Apple goes ahead with the service, it needs to once again embrace its traditional role of innovator, not follower.
How Apple can make its streaming service better than Netflix