Gladys Santiago

Subtle “It’s Complicated” Promotion on “30 Rock?”

Posted in Advertising, Product Placements, Television by Gladys Santiago on January 17, 2010

Meryl Streep - 30 Rock - Black Light Attack!

The “Black Light Attack!” episode of 30 Rock included an entertaining scene where Liz Lemon attempts to persuade the delusional Jenna to accept her age gracefully.  Meryl Streep is often listed as an inspiration to many actresses and Jenna’s flattering dialogue is meant to be interpreted as referring to Streep until true to her narcissistic character, she proclaims Madonna’s name.  Meryl Streep’s symbol as an acting icon, as well as her age help set up the comedic twist. Streep is currently starring in It’s Complicated with 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin, which makes me wonder if mentioning her name was a subliminal way of promoting the NBC Universal (parent company of 30 Rock) film; after all, this wouldn’t be the first time a Meryl Streep film was promoted on the show.  

Just last season, when Jack revealed to Liz that he had narrowed down his biological father to one of three men, Liz stated, “It’s a Mamma Mia.”  The episode, also titled “Mamma Mia,” even followed the musical’s plot.  It’s been reported that at the end of the episode, a commercial advertising the film’s DVD release aired.  I’m not sure if an ad for It’s Complicated aired during the January 14 episode since the film premiered during Christmas weekend. However, since Mamma Mia was also released by NBC Universal, I don’t believe any mention of Meryl Streep is just a mere coincidence.  30 Rock has always been on the forefront of brand integrations and I think the show cleverly used Streep as a subtle references to promote NBC’s entertainment products.  

I imagine Streep’s name was meant to get viewers thinking and making connections such as, “Meryl Streep’s in that movie with Jack.  Who’s the actor that plays Jack? Oh, right.  Alec Baldwin.  She’s in that movie with Alec Baldwin. She plays a middle-aged woman that gets back together with Alec Baldwin, her ex-husband.  What’s that movie called?  Uh, I think It’s Complicated, that sounds right.  Steve Martin is in it too.  Oh, wasn’t he in an episode of 30 Rock last season?  That was a good episode. I like Steve Martin.  It’s Complicated sounds like a good movie.  That guy Jim from The Office is in it too.  I should go see that movie.”  Pure genius!!    

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3 Responses

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  1. Kelli Marshall said, on January 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Had not thought of that–interesting argument!

  2. rsmerk02 said, on January 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I believe every product placement in 30 Rock is ironic. NBCU may think its real, but Tina Fey knows otherwise

  3. Gladys Santiago said, on January 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the replies, Kelli and Ralph!!

    The product placements in 30 Rock may be ironic, but they’re very much real and given their tongue-in-cheek delivery, I’m sure they’re more effective than traditional brand integrations. What people find so fascinating about the product placements in 30 Rock, has to do with the perceived contempt Tina Fey has for such deals. The show mocks the whole brand integration practice and it’s that sort of faux rebellion that NBC probably supports and encourages.


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