The Sneak ADtack staff opened the mailbag this morning and – whaddaya know – a letter poured out. So we thought what the heck, let’s reproduce it here.

[Dear Sneak ADtack,]

Maybe I shouldn’t admit to it, but I am a regular viewer of Ghost Hunters on SyFy. (Don’t worry, my girlfriend already mocks me relentlessly for it.) The show has always walked a not-so-fine line with product placement. For instance, the lead investigators of the show used to be Roto-Rooter plumbers, and the early seasons often started with them doing a plumbing job, in full Rooter gear, working and bestowing the virtues of “professional plumbers” before being called to an investigation. They also own a bed in breakfast in New Hampshire, the Spalding Inn. On investigations, they often wear Spalding Inn sweatshirts and even investigated the Inn. Not surprisingly, it was very haunted. Conveniently, that show aired right before a ghost hunting event at the Inn (only $200 per person, plus the cost of staying a weekend at the hotel–meals not included).

Anyway, this weekend was their annual Live Halloween special, brought to you by Dodge. The special started with the investigators driving up to the investigation site in their tricked out Dodge Grand Caravan, including gratuitous exterior shots: lots of “casual” endorsements for the great hands-free GPS system (“This is awesome.”); demonstration of the blue tooth, voice-activated phone system; and a DVD system so they could all watch their previous investigation of the site in the vans. The topper, though, was the awesome wifi, which really helps them access information from their tablets (“That’s amazing. It’s definitely nice having a wifi hotspot.”). Roughly, a minute and a half of the first three minutes was an ad for all the awesome features of the Dodge Grand Caravan.

After a commercial break, they came back to describe the “Dodge Mobile Command Center” (i.e., the Dodge Grand Caravan) which, as they said, “Does everything, so they can do anything.” If that isn’t a slogan crowbarred into what is supposed to be documentary-style entertainment, I don’t know what is.

It was shameless. I am only 16 minutes into a six-hour show…I am pretty sure I am going to have no choice but to trade in my car for a Dodge by the end.

It is not a total loss though. I found out through the show that one of the celebrity guests (and yes, the episode was rife with SyFy channel “celebrities’) was a guy I knew in college. He is now a professional wrestler in the WWE. That is one use for a degree in communication.


Update: “It does everything, so you can do anything” is in fact one of the slogans used for the TV commercials.

Also, I don’t know the numbers for this episode (up against the World Series and the Sunday Night Football), but the live investigation of Alcatraz last spring drew 2.4 million viewers, and like this one, was a 6 hour infomercial for product sponsors and other SyFy shows.

Sounds like a pretty good dodge they have going over there at Syfy, eh?

John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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