Jimmy Kimmel is doing one of TV’s most overt product placements with a new campaign for Tostitos. But before you object to advertising in the middle of his show, he wants you to know he knows how silly it is.
The have-it-both-ways approach allows Kimmel to maintain his dignity and ironic detachment even as he hawks tortilla chips during his show. His “Worst Contest However” — announced on Thursday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — invites viewers to mail him Tostitos that he may or may not eat during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
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No one wins anything, except Tostitos, which hopes to cash in on Kimmel’s gift for making videos go viral, and Kimmel, who gets paid. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TV advertising used to be direct and unironic: Six decades ago, there would have been nothing unusual about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez lighting up Phillip Morris cigarettes and making a pitch for the brand at that end of “I Love Lucy.”
Overt shilling fell out of fashion, but has made a comeback as shows contend with viewers fast-forwarding through ads. So we got Tina Fey shilling for Snapple on “30 Rock,” even as she joked about doing it.
Kimmel’s work for Tostitos follows that model.
“I’m delighted to be spearheading ‘The Worst Contest Ever.’ It’s a terrible contest and I can’t wait to find out who bothers to enter,” Kimmel said in a statement. “The 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is coming soon, so send me your chip now or you’ll miss out on nothing!”
See? Now we’re all in on the joke, and can make fun of dumb contests by mailing in our chips to take part in the dumb contest. Oh, but we’ll have to buy them first.
Watch the on-air ad: