Selling Across the Spectrum: The Multiplatform Brand Flows of Heroes
This article examines how the NBC show Heroes (Tailwind Productions/Universal Media Studioes, 2006-10) and its use of product placement across multiple platforms represented an early response by networks and advertisers to concerns over ad-skipping and alternate viewing platforms by attempting to reconfigure how brand flow operates across multiple platforms. Not only did the series employ ‘second shift aesthetics’ (Caldwell 2003, 135), which represents networks bringing viewer-users back to the programme by ‘further engag[ing] and activat[ing] the text’ (Caldwell 2004, 50), but the products integrated within the text are pulled into the available world of Heroes’ alternative platform’s textual world, particularly Nissan branded cars. As Henry Jenkins writes: ‘Old media are not being displaced. Rather, their framework and structure shifted by the introduction of new technology’ (2006, 3-4). How these products are used within Heroes' storylines and its interaction with characters and platform goes beyond simple placement to make the product another character within the show.
Further, I examine the way in which Heroes, as a transmedia text, provided many points of entry for viewer-users to interact with it. While an analysis of fan activity is not the focus of this article, it is important to note these possibilities because of the ways in which the promotional apparatus of the network utilized these types of convergences for the series. Yet, in the case of Heroes, this was achieved by suturing new technological abilities of brand extension with an older model of ad- supported television (namely, the single-sponsorship model of early American television), both within the terrestrial television series and across multiple platforms. With the 2008 writers’ strike derailing narrative television for that season—leading to prematurely ended or truncated seasons, or outright cancellations—these transmedia elements became both contentious and useful on both the production and narrative level.