Bourdain Unleashed

Anthony Bourdain hates to shill. Commercials in-between segments aren’t a problem—companies pay for air time and he’s grateful. But increasingly it’s not enough. As he points out, “fewer and fewer people watch their favorite television programs in their scheduled time periods. They DVR them, they record them, they download them online. People tend, under such circumstances, to skip—or speed through—commercials. For this reason, there’s pressure from networks to ‘integrate’ products into the body of the actual shows whenever possible: to slip images of brands right into the action, or to transitions into commercials in such a way as to make the viewer think that it’s still the show they’re watching.”

On No Reservations, Bourdain did allow for a credit card placement, which annoyed some of his fans. He also drove a BMW, which he still drives. But then the Travel Channel went a step further: Without Bourdain’s knowledge, a Cadillac commercial ran and the outspoken chef was in it.

If I make an agreement—especially about something as personal as the use of my name and image, I expect that agreement will be honored. So it came as a shock and a disappointment to turn on the TV for the last two episodes of my show, and see that someone had taken footage that me and my creative team  had shot for my show, cut it up and edited it together with scenes of a new Cadillac driving through the forest. Scenes of me, my face, and with my voice, were edited in such a way as to suggest that I might be driving that Cadillac. That, at least, I was very likely IN that Cadillac—and that if nothing else, I sure as shit was endorsing Cadillac as the vehicle of choice for my show. All this following seamlessly from the actual show so you were halfway through the damn thing before you even realized it was a commercial.

The network made a commercial, with me endorsing a product, and hadn’t even bothered to ask me. After the first airing of the commercial, I let the network know of my extreme displeasure. Fair warning one would think. They ran it again anyway.

I have no problem with Cadillac, by the way. A couple of people have come up to me after reading my enraged twitter rants on this subject and asked me what my problem is with them. No problem. With them.

Is he right or self-righteous? Read the entire screed here.

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