'Survivor' artistic freedom questioned

AVARUA, Cook Islands, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Survivor" assumed a level of creative freedom from U.S. advertisers until a risky storyline showed the precariousness of the relationship, a report says.

CBS' "Survivor" never wanted for sponsorships since its 2000 launch. The reality show's success in placing products within the show, so-called "branded entertainment," kept viewers from leaving during commercials and skipping ads with TiVo, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Contestants compete for prizes, keeping products in front of viewers. "The advertising community is very creative and very willing to work together with producers," Producer Mark Burnett told the Hollywood Reporter in 2004.

But producers are learning the downside of branded entertainment. While producers establish teams along racial lines in "Survivor: Cook Islands" starting Sept. 14, sponsors are beginning to jump ship.

Not only has General Motors decided not to renew its contract, Coca-Cola and Home Depot, are also abandoning the show, the report says.

"Survivor" has thrived on a divisive, Darwinian view of human nature, so its creators ought not be surprised when corporate advertisers distance themselves, the Los Angeles Times said.

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