The Ranch has certainly divided audiences since it’s launched on Netflix in April 2016. But I want to take a minute to talk about the product placement in The Ranch and while the headline is a little over dramatic, I hope I’m able to spark a debate about how Netflix Originals interact with products inside their world.
Let’s stick with The Ranch here for a second. The show starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson and Sam Elliot was perceived by many, including myself, to be the April fools to end all April fools as the concept was a little wacky and sure enough, it was coming on April 1st. It was to be eclipsed by an elaborate plot including John Stamos and sure enough, the first part of season 1 arrived and actually was pretty good.
Sure enough, one of the biggest talking points of the show was its laugh track. Did the show need it? Probably not. Was it often distracting? Absolutely yes. It’s actually one of the main comments and conversations that people talk about and in some cases, it’s causing viewers to skip the show entirely because of it. But what I want to talk about here is the blatant product placement seen throughout.
It’s not uncommon for shows to use product placement in the modern world with shows like The Office on NBC using it to promote Toyotas, HP’s, Cisco and Apple to name but a few. The Ranch in its very first episode seemed to take a particular liking to Budweiser. Jameson is seen swigging throughout the episode on the bottle and actually becomes a major prop point between Jamson and Colt later in the episode. It’s often sometimes so obvious that they’re forcing it down your neck with the bottle being perfectly aligned just for the camera.
Whether it’s wrong or not is entirely down to you but it does provoke a wider debate about how Netflix Originals can recoup costs other than selling the Netflix subscriptions.
We all know Netflix doesn’t have advertisements unlike its rival over at Hulu and instead funds its existence from your subscription as well as smaller income from merchandise and franchising etc. Making television shows isn’t cheap however and a case is then made for product placement to be in the shows as clearly evidenced in The Ranch.
I personally think this is going to be a trend that we’ll see over the next few years and for the most part, I’m not completely against it so long as it’s not too obvious. The argument could be made that even at this point, it is obvious enough for me to even consider writing a post like this and I’d agree with you but I think the debate needs to happen now before it’s too late and Netflix is saturated with it.
Over to you, do you mind product placements in Netflix Originals or would you prefer to up your subscription or, god forbid, have actual advertisements before or after your shows. Let us know in the comments below.