If I stuck to my principles, I should hate Last Man Standing. (Is the title a reference to the George Chambers novel or the 1996 Bruce Willis gangster flick? Or both?) The knockabout adventures of three plucky inner-city single blokes around my age — deftly placed between product placements and saturated with pop culture references — should leave me as cold as the last attempt to do the same sort of thing, Secret Life of Us.
But for some reason it doesn’t.
It should make me mad. One of the characters is a landscape gardener and one is a nurse. Some of the same TV network’s most popular programs include a gardening and home improvement show and a hospital drama. Cross promotion, perhaps?
In last night’s episode, two characters go to one of those enormous aircraft hangar-sized hardware stores. While exposing all the tricks these places use to extract money out of customers, it was still definitely a paid placement. The blokes end up buying a whole bunch of things they don’t need including an $800 barbecue. They spend the rest of the episode justifying to each other why the barbecue was a worthwhile purchase. All very po-mo and ironic, but a hidden advertisement nonetheless.
Clever marketing people with loudly-coloured bowties have invented the “anti-ad” to advertise to cynical gen-X types like me. It’s an ad that says ‘We know you’re too clever to fall for a boring old ad, so yeah, OK, this is an ad, but we’re going to be all ironic and amusing about it’. This, apparently, works.
So while Secret Life‘s blatant product plugs turned me off, Last Man‘s anti-plugs don’t infuriate me half as much. Grrr. How annoying!