NBC’s American Dreams, a ’60s drama that struck on a timely story line this season with a son MIA in Vietnam, came to us commercial-free Sunday night, but certainly not ad free, from Ford Motor Co.
Ford teased Mustang’s omnipresence during the episode with a pre-show spot that samples Steve McQueen’s turn in Bullitt. The car’s earlier incarnation appeared in vintage ads on TVs and on the side of a bus and was even scripted into the show. One character holds up a magazine ad and blurts out, “Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like the new ’66.”
For a show that has already made clear its aspirations to be part of the pop-culture continuum—American Idol Kelly Clarkson has played Brenda Lee in several episodes, and Nick Warnock of last season’s The Apprentice had a cameo—the placement seemed perfect. It was even tuned to the show’s climax, as a wounded JJ returns home to find a Mustang in his family’s garage—a gift from Dad.
If it seems inappropriate to put a product placement in a show about a soldier returning home—especially at a time when many families are missing loved ones fighting in the Middle East—Ford seems undeterred. (Let’s not forget that two seasons ago, Ford, in a similar deal, had one of its Thunderbirds driven by a suspected terrorist on Fox’s 24.)
In fact, the company belabored the point in its American Dreams placement with a short film after the episode that showed a present-day GI home for the holidays, also rewarded with his own Mustang. Sure, the spot is capped with a message of gratitude from Ford to fighting Americans, but the commercial content was clear. Nothing says “Merry Christmas”—or, apparently, “Welcome home”—like a Mustang.
—Posted By Deanna Zammit