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EXCLUSIVE: Bravo Exploits Grief with Crass Product Placement?

Becca is a Senior Editor for All About The Tea. She's a coastal girl who loves the outdoors, and writing about the sneaky and silly side of reality TV. Her bio is short, but her snark is endless. She loves writing for the sharpest posters in the world.

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Reality TV viewers know that Bravo and product hawking go hand in hand. Diet booze, nail polish, wine, sangria, champagne, shape wear, cookie kits, jewelry, candles, skin care, sex toys, books, books, and more books. The “Real Housewives” and Bravo are blissfully joined to make a buck from an audience of peeking spectators, who just get a kick out of watching a few glitzy and supposedly affluent characters, get paid to verbally bitch-slap each other, on camera. The constant commercialism is obnoxious, but at least launch party histrionics are a sure thing! However, many viewers are oblivious to the lengths that Bravo might go to money-grub, as well as the questionable boundaries they may cross, in their quest to appeal to the masses. 

It may surprise a typical watcher that Bravo’s reason for being, is for product placement. The book, “Branded Women in U.S. Television: When People Became Corporations,” explains how “Bravo TV created a new format for promoting consumer products and consumerism as essential parts of life.” Never before could a character like Ramona Singer or Bethenny Frankel speak so freely about their branded projects, “without clashing with fixed storylines, established psychological profiles, or pesky expectations of authenticity.”  The “Housewives” series are a guilty pleasure for millions, many with a likely desire to consume, just like their favorite, colorful characters. Even Andy Cohen’s talk show, Watch What Happens Live functions as a Bravo infomercial.

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While any viewer can simply ignore the annoying product blurbs, Bravo is a pro at pushing the emotional envelope.

A case in point involves the plot recently unfolded on The Real Housewives of New York. We traveled to London, and witnessed Carole Radziwill retrieve the ashes of her late, Kennedy connected husband, Anthony Radziwill. A storyline contradiction was revealed, spotlighted by an account in Radziwill’s memoir, namely the ocean scattering of her husband’s ashes, years before. When called out, Carole claimed that the ashes were split, a nugget of info that she failed to publicly mention, or write about, EVER. During the episode, Carole took solace in her music, in order to get through the emotionally wrenching ordeal. 

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She was seen immersed in her music, once in the car after retrieving the urn, and later, while in bed, tearfully stroking her beloved’s contained remains. In both scenes Carole wore Beats headphones, whose slogan reads “Designed for Sound. Tuned for EMOTION.” Coincidence? 

READ: Carole Radziwill BUSTED for Picking Up Husband’s Already Scattered Ashes?

Consider Season 4 of the same franchise, where we got to know Aviva Drescher, an anxiety-ridden uptown gal, who sought security in her music to get through a harrowing small plane ride into St. Barts. Aviva went so far as to drone on in interviews about which songs she depended on to weather the nail-biting trial, even pulling in yet another retelling of the childhood accident that claimed her leg.  Thank goodness for her trusty Beats headphones, guaranteed to calm the most jittery of hypochondriacs! Closeups of the product were highlighted, as well as a few choice shots of the visually distinct receivers, attached to differing devices.  We watched  the women put the ultra-hip headphones on, off, or both. Throwaway scenes become pivotal, and (fingers-crossed) poignant, while pushing an audio remedy for the emotionally overwrought. “Tuned for EMOTION,” indeed.

Aviva wearing Beats headphones_RHONY (1)

We all know that such blatant label flashing only occurs when an advertising  relationship is established. Bravo has actually gifted many Bravo-lebrities with the headphones, so a network partnership with Beats is not a secret. Were Carole and Aviva directed as to when, where, and how to utilize the headphones, to deliver the perfectly crafted advertising punch? Astute viewers may remember that Aviva’s island arrival was supposedly a last-minute decision. The supposed original scenario would translate to no flight, which would mean no camera time for those cute, red Beats headphones. Nice try, Bravo, but NO sale. 

No outsider can say for sure if Radzwill and Drescher were tastelessly required to wear the headphones, as the cameras filmed numerous shots of the product from several angles, in the drawn out, and contrived scenes. We do know that Radziwill got testy when confronted on Twitter for seemingly cooperating with the tacky combo of illusive peddling, mixed with a probable shot of overacted grief.  Could that gold urn in reality, have been empty?

Carole’s tweet_RHONY

Bravo has the highest-rated network for product placement effectiveness in broadcast,” according to Nielsen IAG. However, does supposedly exploiting grief fall into the most effective product placement category?

Were the touching scenes used to suck in millions conceived with simply a wink between a promoter and a Bravo producer?

We’re pretty confident Carole Radziwill and Aviva Drescher were struggling with real-life challenges and had no knowledge they were playing commercial actresses to pull off  “tuned for EMOTION” to a perfect pitch.   

 

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