Brands, Not Fans, Are Bringing ‘Community’ Back

By Karen Fratti 

Last spring, fans rejoiced when it was announced that, thanks to popular demand, “Community” was going to be saved on a second screen. The sitcom will debut this March, exclusively on Yahoo’s ad supported streaming service. Today, it was announced that Honda will be the main advertising partner. So, you can thank the car company for your favorite show’s return.

Not only will they have pre-roll ads and in-episode attempts at engagement, the Honda CR-V will appear in the first episodes, according to a statement. Oh, product placement. Last week, Variety posited that the state of product placement is changing. It will be less obvious, more integral to the plot, or just featured alongside of the content:

In more recent years, TV networks have turned more aggressively to product placement to help goose ad sales that have been crimped by new gizmos and technologies that let viewers fast-forward past or otherwise ignore TV commercials. Now, with more video available via digital streaming, advertisers are looking elsewhere, which could have an effect on how TV networks cast for ad deals in the coming upfront market, when they try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory.

Last night’s series premiere of “Better Call Saul” had Twitter viewers craving Cinnabons. Not only was it featured in the episode, but they gave out free buns in honor of the premiere date. Innovative? Not really, but when was the last time you thought about Cinnabon? You want one now, right? I do, just don’t tell anyone I said so.

Yes, everything is “shifting to digital,” as per the Variety report, but as long as streaming networks want to remain cheap (or free, in Yahoo’s case), expect long, panning shots of new cars, fast food brands, and tech. Some things are too easy to give up.