Plug and Play, TCM-Style

March will come in like an MGM lion, or maybe Tony the Tiger, on Turner Classic Movies.

The cable net is planning a product placement-themed film festival in March that will combine 11 classic films and their plugs with interstitials hosted by George Simkowski, president of product placement firm, Let's Go Hollywood.

Product placement is nothing new, says TCM, but instead a 'classic' example of synergy between the media and the messages. To illustrate the point, its first film is the 1932 Scarface, in which Owl Cigars won an auction for rights to promote star Paul Muni as smoking its product in the film (ironically, Muni wound up smoking another cigar).

TCM is getting into the plug spirit itself, with Simkowksi wearing a TCM golf shirt, hat, and glove, in the interstitials, while a TCM champagne glass, phone and clock are also prominently featured.

Among the planned films are Father of the Bride (Coke was served at an engagement party), Arsenic and Old Lace (a new Bell phone is used), and Superman II, where Marlboro cigarettes got 20 mentions in exchange for a direct payment from Marlboro to the film's producers.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.