When The Atlantic Wire took a look at shows we thought portrayed 21st Century tech in a very 21st Century manner, we explained the phenomenon in terms of literary value and practicality, but there's another factor at play here: Advertising. It's not all about setting the scene, symbolism or commentary, as Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Peter Burrows and Andy Fixmer point out. There's money at stake here -- technology often comes in the form of a product, which means a company might have paid for that gadget to appear on TV. What makes a show most authentic, it seems, is that it cares more about its own reality than about brand-agreements.
It sounds absurd from a business perspective, but some shows do, in fact, care more about having a genuine feel than making money off product placement ads. One such program is one we also singled out in our round-up of tv that does tech right: Modern Family. "Executive producer Steve Levitan has on multiple occasions nixed eight-figure product placement deals that don’t feel true to the plot," an anonymous branding expert told Burrows and Fixmer. The show often has entire plot-lines structured around our modern gadgets and it always feels just right, as we discussed in more detail earlier this week. Now we know why. Levitan thinks beyond the product. He told AdAge's Brian Steinberg that he turns down 90 percent of product placement requests. In fact, that entire episode about Phil's iPad, was done without any money from Apple, as Apple doesn't pay for its produce placements, according to Burrows and Fixmer. When creators write something like that into a plot, it feels more natural than an awkward, in your face brand-name thing in the middle of a scene, which often happens with product deals.