"Maybe Romance Will Crop Up": Product Placement on The Millionaire Matchmaker

Curator's Note

Notions of product placement shift when everything and everyone are products being sold.  Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker differentiates itself from other dating shows because it is primarily a branding vehicle for all involved.  The show exemplifies Bravo's programming identity where strong personalities and over-the-top consumption are lifestyle tutorials for their desired upwardly mobile audience.  Several featured millionaires are entrepreneurs or Hollywood hotshots who identify themselves with their achievements in their introductions.  Likewise many of the ladies are models or actresses, suggesting that their own self-promotion may be entwined with their desire for a rich date.  However, star Patti Stanger has the most to gain from the show as a piece of her larger media empire.  The show highlights her pre-existing business and illustrates her services.

Within the diegesis, Stanger's other ventures are presented both as evidence of her success and as additional extensions with which audiences can engage.  The show's three-episode integration of Stanger's partnership with 1-800-Flowers is the show's most egregious example of product placement to date.  In the first clip, Stanger connects her ideas about gender and romance (which largely constitute her branded identity) with her featured bouquet from 1-800-Flowers.  After mentioned the product, she transitions into other relationship advice allowing forward momentum within the narrative.  The second clip shows an excerpt from another episode where Stanger orchestrates a date on a 1-800-Flowers flower farm.  Featuring gratuitous shots of flowers, signage and an introduction from 1-800-Flowers' founder, the clip encapsulates the complex nebula of lifestyle envy, product placement, performed romance and branding constantly working within the show.

Stanger's onscreen persona as propagated by Bravo creates greater traffic to her presence on other media platforms.  When the episodes featuring 1-800-Flowers aired, Bravo linked to Stanger's page within the 1-800-Flowers website, which featured links to her signature bouquet as well as suggestions for other 1-800-Flowers bouquets.  Throughout all episodes, Stanger uses her setting as a promotional opportunity by decorating her office, Blackberry and laptop with promotional art from her other ventures.  In addition to the Millionaire's Club, Stanger has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, a self-help dating book, a weekly call in show on XM Radio, a weekly Yahoo! blog, and her own dating website for non-millionaires (a subsidiary of JDate, subtly reinforcing Stanger's heritage as a third generation Jewish matchmaker).  Stanger incorporates established brands into her image, in turn reinforcing herself as a brand and corporate entity.

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.