It’s the kind of good publicity Apple couldn’t buy—ABC’s terrific new comedy Modern Family made the quest to buy a launch-day iPad the main plot of last week’s episode.
Three lines into the opening scene, the plot becomes clear—and the unabashed iPad praise begins in earnest (Steve Jobs and God are also linked). Gadget hound and all-around “cool dad” Phil wants an iPad for his birthday; his wife Claire is skeptical, but open to learning more!
Ars Technica usually publishes much better articles but this one is full of invective that has no factual bearing. Apple did not have anything to do with the creation of this episode, according to the writers and creators of the show.
“Modern Family” writers hatched the iPad idea themselves, shortly before the multimedia device was officially announced in January, Mr. Levitan said. They had planned to tell a story about Phil’s wanting a “very hard-to-get present” for his birthday, and had toyed with using a new videogame. As the frenzy grew around the Apple tablet grew, the show’s writers thought the new Apple device would better tap into the zeitgeist, Mr. Levitan said.
I would suggest that the author of the rant was actually doing exactly what he was accusing Modern Family of – trying to include Apple in his rant in order to cynically increase page views. All I got is that the author just does not really like the iPad. He picked on Apple, forcing its needless inclusion in an otherwise relevant rant on advertising. Why Apple on MOdern Family instead of Toyota on Bones or Coke on House? By making it an Apple product (instead of some other company), he could be sure of attracting a large number of comments from people who hate anything Apple, followed by those who love anyting Apple. Without the Apple lede, fewer would pick up on the article.
So he used unneeded product placement to drive traffic to his article. The article could have been almost the same without the huge placement of Apple’s iPad upfront, even if he had to twist the facts to do so. Pot, meet kettle.
Perhaps paid product placement is a useful thing to criticize but trying to riff off of Apple simply to get page views seems, well, a little more unseemly than I expect Ars articles to be. Full of speculation, innuendo, hyberpole and invective. “But Modern Family reminds us what TV can become when a promising show is taken over wholesale by advertisers. Not everyone likes the reminder” Taken over wholesale? 30 minutes of primetime? Did this guy really watch the show or is he twisting it in order to try an make a point so he can get more pageviews?
Not one of the better articles from Ars which is why I am writing about it. Perhaps that was its purpose – to be so bad that it would provoke a response – thus getting a lot of pageviews for the site. I hate to be so cynical but that is what the article should have been about. Not that product placement is bad but that without proper transparency, people can take a cynical view of almost anything dealing with a proprietary product, even an Ars Technica article.
Now that would have been a much better read.