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Companies pay big bucks for Product Placement, and popular media certainly appreciate the value of this cash cow. So much so that when products or corporate logos turn up incidentally in TV programming without having paid the requisite dues, they will be censored.
This mostly occurs in non-fiction programming, like News Broadcasts and Documentaries, where the producer has little control over the people and the environment, or Reality Shows. If an interviewee for a documentary is wearing a T-shirt with the Nike swoosh, break out the pixellation. Before the development of digital image processing, stagehands handled this by covering labels on bottles, cans or boxes with masking tape or paper strips. This process, called "greeking," is still quite common, as masking tape is a lot cheaper than making the blurred area track the motion of the naughty brand name. Keep in mind, they did (and still do) "greek" clothing or other logos on people's shirts, too (often during spontaneous GONZO segments on nonfiction shows), and it's not very comfortable.
- Code Geass prominently featured Product Placement for sponsor Pizza Hut... well, it did in the original. Pizza Hut was airbrushed out of the American broadcast. Apparently, the US division of Pizza Hut didn't want to support a show starring a Well-Intentioned Extremist terrorist.
- Darker Than Black: Pizza Hut featured prominently in the original broadcast but was removed for the English version.
- British Airways has received criticism for how, in its in-flight version of the James Bond flick Casino Royale, they have edited out the cameo of rival Richard Branson and obscured the tail-fin of one of Branson's Virgin Atlantic planes.
- DVD releases of Grease blur out Coca-Cola signs in the diner scene that were visible in the original theatrical print and early video releases. It's particularly noticeable in one scene in which two characters are conversing in front of a rather large Coke ad.
- Myth Busters does this all the time, either blurring the logo or covering it with one proclaiming the product to be "Mythbusters Brand". "Diet Coke and Mentos explosion" is a notable aversion, likely since those two particular brand names are intrinsic to the meme.
- The european edit of the show actually uses the terms mints, sweets and candy. Mentos is never mentioned and the myth is called "Cola Cascade".
- Subverted in "Superhero Special," in which Adam makes a reference to "Nocturnal Echolocating Flying Mammal Man."
Jamie: What, you mean Batman?
Adam: Yes. Shh!
- Got a little ridiculous when the Science Channel picked up the show as they censor everyone's shirts.
- As a publicly funded body, The BBC is forbidden to advertise or give undue prominence to any brand, so any time a branded product is mentioned the phrase "other brands/services are available" will often follow. DJs and presenters often lampshade this. It's most obvious when a brand name has passed into everyday language: children's TV show Blue Peter tells kids to use "sticky tape" or "sticky-back plastic". But apparently, the BBC recently declared "sellotape" sufficiently genericised to be used.
- A lot of Korean Drama has this:
- CSI often features rather masterfully done props featuring fake brand names.
- Good Eats frequently refers to products with trademarked names without mentioning the names themselves (for instance, Alton Brown won't use the name of a chocolate-marshmallow cookie while a picture of the moon and a pie appear behind him), or brand-name products are parodied (like "B2 Steak Sauce). In the behind-the-scenes episode, Alton even explains the process of "greeking". Occasionally inverted in scenes at actual grocery markets, where not only are actual brand names not obscured, but the actual grocery market's name and location is proudly displayed via pop-up titles (namely, Kroger chain stores in Alton's hometown of Atlanta).
- The British game show Supermarket Sweep used to do this with all the products on the set (a fake supermarket). The credits at the end of the show would include the line "Products supplied by Somerfield".
- Canadian show Trailer Park Boys does this to pretty much every brand name on-screen.
- The montage at the end of the first episode of New Amsterdam showed Times Square change over the years, but with all the branding replaced with generic products. Apparently, Mom's Homemade Pies could afford large billboard space during the 1940s.
- An odd case on an episode of Live & Kicking: the Spice Girls were appearing, and Mel C was wearing a Liverpool shirt. Perhaps realising someone going around with a Carlsberg logo across their chest on kid's TV was a bad idea, it got covered up with a Live & Kicking sticker mid-show.
- Some reruns and many DVD releases of certain TV shows replace them with generic tunes to avoid paying royalties, two of the more infamous examples being WKRP in Cincinnati, and Happy Days on DVD from Season Two on.
- In the TV show Veronica Mars, a popular orange soda brand is replaced with the fictional "Skist" using similar colors and design.
- Veronica Mars also endlessly covers up the Apple logos on various computers with flowers, pencils, ect.
- Justified in Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman, as the titular character's ego ensures that nearly every product will have a picture of him on it. (Even lampshaded on one occasion.)
- Lampshaded on James May's Toy Stories. While scouting the circuit for his attempt to build a Scalextric replica of a racing track which had been partly replaced by buildings, May visited the headquarters of Sony to see if they'd let him run the track through there. May introduced the company to the viewers as 'that company that rhymes with bony', and later referred to it as a soap company.
- Both Ace of Cakes and (in earlier episodes) Cake Boss are forbidden from saying "Rice Krispies Treats", even though it's a very well-used "construction material".
- An Ace cake that featured a Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel and bottle was blurred out and not shown in close-up, respectively, despite the obviously elaborate piping that went into the label. Ironically, the cake was a huge honor for Duff, as the group that ordered it is considered "the foodies of foodies" and only gets food from established chefs or notable up-and-comers.
- The Verizon store sign to the right of the Cake Bosss bakery is always blurred out, but I like to think it's because it clashes with the old-fashioned, elaborate signs of the bakery and the flower shop(?) to its left.
- Stand-up comedian Patrice Oneal had a bit in his Comedy Central special about the initial presumption by the media that the Washington D.C. sniper was a white man, the punchline of which was "...downgraded to 'nigga in a Buick.'" The network cut out the word "Buick" because the parent company didn't want the name Buick associated with the news story.
- Normally averted by the copious amounts of product placement on The Wire, it is played straight in the opening of season four when Snoop buys Chekhov's nail gun from obvious Home Depot stand-in "Hardware Barn."
- In an episode of Change The Day You Die, one of the people wore a sleeveless top with the sports logo blurred out.
- Frequently happened in the French talk-show C'est mon choix.
- I Love Lucy originally contained several references to Philip Morris cigarettes, who sponsored the first four seasons. When Philip Morris ceased sponsorship, old episodes had the references removed for syndication(eg, a scene in which Lucy dressed as Johnny Roventini, the Philip Morris bellhop, lost lines in which Lucy mentioned the brand by name).
- The original opening credits, featuring cartoon versions of Lucy and Ricky and a giant Philip Morris cigarette pack, were also removed for most of its syndication run for the same reason. These were eventually restored by T V Land, with their network logo replacing the cigarettes.
- A show called Playhouse 90 ran in The Fifties - one episode dealt with discussion of the Nuremburg trials. At the sponsor's request, all references to Nazi gas chambers were removed - the sponsor was the American Gas Company.
- Deadliest Catch: Occasionally things are blurred-out or taped over so badly that it almost seems like a Running Gag:
- In one scene, Josh Harris is wearing a hat with the Hurley logo covered with gaffer's tape -- poorly: it barely covered the middle of the logo; the next scene has him shot from the other side, and word Hurley (with tiny version of the logo) is uncovered. Currently, any boardsports logos are just ignored to the point where as of 2011 the Cornelia Marie's sorting table is coated with DVS Shoes logos and one crewmember showed up wearing a(n unblurred) Hurley jacket.
- Two hilarious examples occurred on the last two shows in 2011: When Scott Hillstrand was looking at photos of his son they blurred out the Batman logo despite it being really obvious who the kid was dressed as (it was Halloween); a scene in the Wizard's (I think) kitchen had a cereal box directly behind someone's head, as if to highlight how poorly the box was taped over (imagine two thin lines going through "Cap'N Crunch").
- Zig-zagged by Canada's Worst Driver: the cars used for challenges are frequently identified by manufacturer and model (and in the case of classic cars, often by model year as well), but other brand identifiers are blurred out (a cup of chili from a Wendy's in season 7, for instance).
- Used inconsistently on at least one segment of Sandra Lee's shows on Food Network. A tub of Cool Whip had its logo blurred out the first time it appeared, yet in another shot, the editors didn't even bother.
- Lots of hip-hop videos in The Nineties were full of shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia that had to get their logos blurred out. It still happens on occasion, Pharrell Williams' sneakers are blurred out in Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (especially odd because there's a close-up of them at the line "See these Ice Creams").
- Since rappers are prone to Product Placement in their lyrics, this can even extend to bleeping those names, with hilarious results. Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" edited the line "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom" by bleeping out "Burger King" rather loudly and with a standard bleep normally reserved for obscene language. Incidentally, the sexually suggestive lines -- such as "I'm still gettin' in the girls' pants" and "In a 69, my Humpty nose will tickle your rear" -- had "girls' pants," "69", and "rear" bleeped out with wacky sound effects, such as car horns, record scratching, and a woman's scream.
- Another music video example would be Beck's stormtrooper helmet being blurred out in the "Loser" video. Oddly, a year or two later, Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" featured an unblurred T-shirt with a Stormtrooper helmet on it.
- The Kinks' 1970 hit "Lola", as it appears on the album Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, includes the line "Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola". This was changed to "cherry cola" for the single release to appease The BBC.
- The Eurovision Song Contest forbids songs from containing political gestures or references to brand names. Only one song has gotten into trouble with this rule, San Marino's So Bad It's Good song "Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh"
- Since the WWE lost a lawsuit to the World Wildlife Fund over the use of the "WWF" initials, new videos from old matches have the "WWF" logo digitally blurred or pixellated out.
- Mick Foley also relates an anecdote in his second book, Foley Is Good: and the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling, where WWE's director has him re-shoot a promo in a different location since there was an unnoticed Coke machine in the background, and Coke had just recently pulled their sponsorship of the show due to pressure from the Parents' Television Council.
- The radio version of the Amazing Rhythm Aces' song "Third Rate Romance" replaces the line "They went to the Holiday Inn" with "They went to the Family Inn".
- Tobacco companies were the main sponsor of several major Formula One teams (such as the Marlboro Ferraris, and British American Racing's Lucky Strike cars). But then, at the turn of the 21st century, many countries began to implement laws strictly banning tobacco advertising. In races where these laws were in effect, tobacco company logos had to be greeked from the cars. Due to these laws, tobacco companies have largely pulled out of F1 sponsorship. Even British American Racing, which was a joint venture between British American Tobacco (owners of the Lucky Strike brand, hence the free advertising) and Honda, got sold entirely to Honda as a result.
- An odd meta-example occurred in 2009: when Renault lost their sponsorship with ING over the Crashgate scandal, the team didn't have time to get everything replaced without the ING logo for the next race, so masking tape had been used on some surfaces to hide the logo. (Shirts, oddly, went unscathed.) As for the car itself, all the ING stickers were replaced by Renault stickers.
- If you payed big money to sponsor the big automobile race and forgot to pay ESPN sponsorship fees too, expect to see your race get downgraded to "Series at Location, presented by GoDaddy.com", everywhere where it is mentioned (not even the ticker is safe!)
- AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, has a giant Coke bottle behind third base. Every baseball video game to feature AT&T Park includes the bottle but either omits the Coke logo or substitutes with a fictitious one.
- Also done with the "Budweiser" roof plainly seen beyond the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field. That is either shown just as plain red, or with a different logo/color.
- Averted in Yehuda Moon and The Kickstand Cyclery which freely mentions brand names and uses one real life branded item as a major plot point. Tires are being deflated by putting Keen axle bearings inside the valve caps.
- According to the DVD commentary for the season seven episode of The Simpsons "Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield" , despite Marge being allowed to mention that she had on a Chanel dress (the Jackie-O inspired suit she found at an outlet store and the replacement one she bought at a Chanel boutique), the actual Chanel name couldn't be shown (which was why it was covered by Marge's hand and by a tree).
- ↑ The episode where Marge gets a fancy Chanel dress and nearly joins a country club while Homer squares off in a golf match against Mr. Burns