The days when a TV host would serve up a tasty bowl of Alpo or light up a Lucky Strike on-air and sing its praises are long gone, but in-show sponsorship may be making a comeback, the New York Times reports. Meow Mix will launch its own game show this summer, and Dos Equis beer plans to boost its brand with an upcoming reality show.
Marketers—trying to make a dent in an age of Tivo and frenzied remote clickers—say making the brand an intrinsic part of the show is more effective than just running ads. But they have to walk a fine line to avoid turning off viewers by over-selling the product or making it look like an infomercial. "We like being able to be developers of the content,” said a cat food company exec, but “we’re not making every question on the show have ‘Meow Mix’ as an answer."