Reality variations on popular scripted series have a long and semi-storied history. The O.C. begat Laguna Beach. Glee begat The Glee Project. Desperate Housewives begat about 87 percent of what airs on Bravo. So it’s easy to understand why AMC developed The Pitch, a new docuseries that’s meant to be a modern companion to Mad Men. Though the network’s most critically acclaimed show features plenty of client meetings and brainstorming sessions, it’s often more of a soapy character study than a workplace drama. The Pitch, then, can theoretically satisfy those who want to know more about how an advertising agency really works.
In each episode, two different agencies are tasked with dreaming up campaigns for the same product. Episode 1 — a premiere that re-aired last night after a special sneak peek in early April — features Durham, North Carolina’s McKinney and L.A.’s WDCW as they prepare competing commercials for Subway breakfast sandwiches. There’s no inherent reason why this set-up shouldn’t work; before I saw Project Runway for the first time, I never would have guessed that watching a group of colorful weirdos sew could be completely absorbing.
But while Project Runway, Top Chef, and any number of reality competitions are stuffed with their fair share of product placement — don’t forget to sample some Swanson broth while examining the Bluefly.com accessories wall! — the entire point of The Pitch is product placement. It’s hard to view this show without feeling like you’ve been duped into watching an hour-long commercial… one that’s occasionally interspersed with other, shorter commercials. READ FULL STORY