IPAD STARS IN TV COMEDY
Apple Supplied Tablets for Secret Shoot;
(The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2010)
(Link to story on wsj.com)
'They Asked Us Not to Tweet About It'
By SAM SCHECHNER and SUZANNE VRANICA
In February, an Apple Inc. marketing executive traveled to a Los Angeles sound-stage with a special payload: two early iPads. The tablet computers were being escorted for a top-secret appearance on ABC's sitcom "Modern Family."
The episode aired Wednesday evening before about 9.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Co. In it, geeky father character Phil Dunphy pines for an iPad, whose April 3 release coincides with his birthday. "It's like Steve Jobs and God got together to say 'We love you, Phil,"' the character said of the coincidence, referring to Apple's chief executive.
The episode, so close to the iPad's release, highlights the increasingly blurry line between entertainment and marketing. Years ago, real products made only brief appearances in the background of shows. Now brands often get co-staring roles in some of the most popular programs on television.
"It was a very highly guarded guest star," said Steve Levitan, the show's co-creator. Apple did not ask the show staff to sign a non-disclosure agreement, Mr. Levitan said, "but they asked us not to tweet about it."
"Modern Family" writers hatched the iPad idea themselves, shortly before the multimedia device was officially announced in January, Mr. Levitan said. They had planned to….