Subtlety is out and cringeworthy storyline integration is in for brands across Australian reality shows. But do viewers appreciate it?

Like millions of Australians (if viewership figures are anything to go by) I’ve spent a lot of time watching reality television this year. Across all of these shows, from high-drama rose ceremonies, nail-biting immunity challenges or renovation room reveals, there’s one consistent recurring character: the sponsor.

It’s there serving up a microwave-ready meal on a date that promised a home-cooked dinner. It’s the app which allows construction workers to log building defects – forcing viewers to learn more about corking and waterproofing than the average couch slob will ever need to know. It’s seeing starving adults come close to tears over an orange four-door ute. Product placement is everywhere, and it’s just so, well, awkwardly obvious.

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