Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef, and Gordon Ramsay, host and producer of television shows including Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, spoke recently on how they integrate product placement into their shows as part of a Hollywood Reporter panel of television hosts.
Lakshmi admitted to feeling as though she gets "saddled or slammed with the crappy part of it" on the Bravo show. "I wind up saying the brand’s name in my introduction of the challenge to these chefs… It’s never like, 'Get in your car,' it’s 'Get in your blah blah blah car,' and after a while — I have to make that sh*t sound natural, and it’s hard!"
Lakshmi did credit her producers’ creativity in integrating products into the show, and cited a challenge that was sponsored by Reynolds Wrap. "We covered everything in aluminum foil — and it was beautiful!" In this case, "Rather than trying to be surreptitious about [product placement], I think there is something refreshing. It’s almost like '50s television."
But when product placement is awkward or too obvious, as fellow panelist and Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron said, it can immediately eliminate the viewer’s interest in the show.
Gordon Ramsay echoed this sentiment. "A chef never wants to look like a sellout," he said, "but I know how important and integral that financial clout is, and their demographics and that’s absolutely paramount."
Ramsay's experience with introducing a product on a show is much less direct, without obvious displaying of brand labels. The effect of this, he said, "from a producing point of view, is that it makes you strive harder to become more creative."
"Rather than blatantly mention the top-tier sponsor, then we have to integrate smartly… and be clever how we expose their product without being obvious. And that’s a fine, fine line there, because we can’t sell out."