Media Mix, Feb. 27, 2011

Takuro Morinaga

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about the increasingly blurry line between content and commercials on TV variety shows. After filing the story I had misgivings about using “Gatchiri Academy” as an example of a show that made use of the infomercial format since it’s only a very small portion of it that does. Actually, when the series started a year or so ago, it was quite useful in that the economists and finance writers who made up the panel often debated significant consumer issues, such as whether it was better to buy or rent, or what actual value do you get from retail point cards and other incentive campaigns. But eventually the debates were phased out and replaced by direct promotions of certain brands and companies, and sometimes, though not always, they invite an employee of that company or a rep of that brand to explain things, and, naturally, it’s always in a positive light. No debate, or even a word from the competition. But last week the producers really showed their hand when popular economist-tarento Takuro Morinaga, a regular on the show, was hosting a running segment about a couple with six kids who were trying to buy a house in Sendai. It so happens that Morinaga’s brother is a manager with Mitsui Fudosan in Sendai, and he brought him on the show to advise the couple, all the while plugging Mitsui. When the segment started a few weeks ago, I wondered, “Why did they choose Sendai for this?” Last week, I got my answer.

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