Wednesday, April 6, 2011

About the "Free Stuff"

Statesmen Team with Sponsors at Roloff Farms luncheon and
Zach Roloff in Basketball Jersey w/ Impact Advertising Specialties on back
Thanks for all of the great subject suggestions. It was very interesting to read through and see what other people had on their mind about the Roloff’s and LPBW. Even though it will take me a while to cover your ideas so far, keep them coming because I get inspired from the different viewpoints.

The subject I decided to tackle first was about “Free Stuff”. Out of the many emails received there were a few that talked about this subject in some way or another. In one, it was suggested that the Roloff’s were rolling in the dough as “Highly Paid Reality TV Stars” and then asking companies for free this and free that. This perception bothered me for a multitude of reasons, mainly of course being that it’s simply not true. I thought it was a strong statement from someone who does not have a clear understanding of both sides of this coin. Have companies provided products and services in exchange for showing those products and services on Little People Big World? Yes. Was it free? Not necessarily.

I know because my company was a sponsor of the Statesmen team going to compete in Ireland at the World Dwarf Games. In addition to our sponsorship, we negotiated a trade out agreement. A ‘trade-out’, is a widely used business agreement in television, a formal agreement between the network and the company wanting to trade their products. Part of the terms I brought to our trade agreement was that our logo was on Zach’s jersey and that we would be the exclusive provider of all uniforms and customized products for the team and the event. We provided all of the initial team products at our expense, but other items were purchased from us. It was win win. They got a company who could navigate a complicated nine sponsor logo customization project and we got exposure on a hit television show. Another of the Statesmen sponsors was Viking Pools who I met during a luncheon at the farm. We talked about and admired the pool they provided in a previous season. The pool was the trade, but a big chunk of the prep work and all of the finished patio was not, for example. This worked out great for Viking because it was a multi-episode project and they really exploited their LPBW affiliation on their website and with social media, and still do. One of the biggest projects undertaken at the farm was the house remodel. It may surprise at least one of you to know that other than the Pella windows, driveway pavers, geo-thermal heat system and a few other branded products, the bulk of the massive remodel was all Roloff.

The parameters of a trade out agreement are set by the network, the production company and the talent. Discovery/TLC had the final approval for all trade outs on LPBW. Discovery/TLC had to consider their advertisers, and whether the company is a conflict, or is better suited to buy ad time. For the production company they consider how the storytelling will be impacted, specifically the shooting and editing logistics and if the ‘viewer value’ supersede any added costs to the production that may be incurred. For the Roloff’s, they had to determine if it fit who they were, because in the end, it becomes an endorsement and it should work organically into their story being told. And a biggy not to be ignored is the cost associated with the trade, because as I said, free is not necessarily free and actually many times their costs exceeded that of the trade.

In season one there was a learning experience when a producer had a miscommunication with some vendors at a local street market who had invested in sprucing up their booths and signage in hopes of being on television. Although it was not a formal trade out situation, Matt emphasized that it became very important to him and Amy not to leave any “dead bodies” in this process. It was important for them to make sure supporters and trading partners had a realistic expectation of their return. Especially with the smaller trades that could be gobbled up by the bigger story. There are hundreds of hours of video being filmed to produce one 30 minute show, after editing the storyline together, their product, service or location may only get a few seconds of air time in addition to their name in the end credits. Nevertheless there were many companies who wanted to be apart of LPBW, far too many to have ever had on the show especially without causing a editing room revolt. And I don’t say that lightly, I really mean it. The Statesmen sponsorship episodes probably put more than a few gray hairs on the heads of LPBW camera operators and editors in having to deal with so many different companies at one time. It was a unique situation that probably still gives them nightmares, but it was great fun for us!

One thing is clear when speaking to the Roloff’s on this subject, they are very appreciative to all the individuals and companies that provided goods and services during the production of LPBW. Matt expressed that they are sincerely grateful to each and every one of them.


12 comments:

  1. It was nice that the team got to go to Ireland and that people helped them get there. I'm going to watch those episodes again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why is it that the richer you get the more people want to give you things for free?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I watch your show and see what you say. You have great family. Be happy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Too bad they didn't do a show about all the behind the scenes things like this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's totally reasonable to expect some 'free stuff' from companies who can leverage their exposure on a TV show for much more signifigant gains. I just think people miss the point of what the show is about. Its not about people in good positions getting more. Its about a couple who faced adversity, yet were able to find their own opportunities and acheive their own signifigant place in the world. Its something we all can and should be working on in our own lives, even if our only adversity is apparent anonymity. Everyone can find opportunity, you just have to work hard to see it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The show was entertaining and inspiring and we never thought twice about any stuff. thanks for sharing your lives. When are coming back to tv?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why deceive the viewers about getting stuff for free?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tradeouts or "continuity" have been a base of broadcasting before it was a business. Lee DeForest's water-cooled mike in the 1910s and early non-code broadcasts played Columbia 78s for the mention. in the 20s through early 50s it was legally required to state whether a program was live or "transcription." "Product placement" in TV, movies, and on stage is a well-negotiated part of production. if you see the brand logo, there is generally a contract for use. those are held at the "continuity" departments of the producers and broadcasters in case of legal review, or continuing payments as shows are repeated, per specific contracts. if you know about it, it can roll off your back like water on a duck. now. you. know.

    ReplyDelete
  9. DM, I don't know what you're talking about being deceived. Our family never missed a show and we don't think anyone deceived us. I agree with Anon 3:50, that is what the show was for us too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for sharing what goes on with making your show. Would have been sweet if my boss could have offered some of our products, but you probably didn't need any lampshades. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the insight! I enjoy the blog and hope the Roloffs return to TLC. Even if it's a special. How has TLC been affected from the show not being on anymore?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would love to come out there! We live in Vancouver, Washington. I have dreamed of seeing your pumpkin patch. However, I am one of the "differently abled" (For lack of a better term.) Is it OK for us with disabilities??? I have heard about your farm since long before LPBW....I'd love to see it, while I can. You guys are all awesome! Lord bless!

    ReplyDelete

We welcome your comments. Please read our comment policy.
When commenting, please put a name in the Name/URL option. (the URL can remain blank) Using 'Anonymous' gets confusing. Thanks!