Let me peep a scenario for all of you. It is a cold winters night in St. Louis—the utopian society where everyone is a billionaire—and you are sitting on the couch cuddled up next to your boo, or more likely the dog you treat like a person because you are lonely and smell too bad to be sexually attractive. You both (either dog or gentleman/lady caller) sport a Snuggie unironically 5 years after it was cool to do so and eat chicken fingers out of a GoPlate, licking spilled ranch dressing off of each other’s faces and realizing halfway through the ordeal that GoPlate’s are worthless because you cannot fit a Capri Sun in the middle. You pull out your phones, take a picture, and snapchat it to 29 people who have never once cared what you are doing. You are now a walking advertisement. Welcome to real-life product placement in the year 2016.
Those days are over now, long gone, and as social media and reality TV blur our view on celebrity and make all of our lives less private, they have also changed the calculus of the marketing game itself. They have rocked the idea of advertising to its core. They have made us all salesmen and women, people who endorse products with every drunken picture we take while swigin’ a Natty Light and post to Twitter.
Nothing is sacred. Nothing is pure. Everything is adulterated, even our own lives. Even The Bachelor, aka most genuine search for love that the world has ever known this side of Adam and Eve covering their junk with leaves which may or may not have been representative of what they were packing downstairs. The Bachelor now exists to sell things to the people who watch it. The Bachelor now exists to sell things to us. And these are the products Ben H and the ladies are slangin', as they live a real life that is, at this point and time, no less real than our own.
Product Placement on The Bachelor
1) McDonald’s: Ben H. takes Amanda on a date to the Warsaw, IN McDonald’s because it is the a place that is really important to him, almost as important as the youth center he used to work at, the local dive bar where he spent his childhood alongside his alcoholic father, Wrigley Field, the movie theater where Ben H. had his first kiss, the local motel where he met his first prostitute, and the Great Clips where Ben H. lost the ability to smell when a stylist punctured his nostrils while attempting to trim his nose hairs. They order Egg McMuffins at night because, like, oh my gosh you can now, but they pair the eggy goodness with a side of fries, which pisses me off because if you are going to commit to breakfast for dinner then, god damn it, order a hash brown patty and eat it in one bite like a man.
Eventually Ben H. and Amanda begin working the McDonalds drive through and take orders to show how glamorous making $7/hour while having 2 kids you left at home for three months to go on a reality dating show can be. Ben H. drinks 9 sips of his Iced coffee and pukes off camera. Amanda wonders if she did well enough on drive through duty to earn an actual job at McDonald’s once Ben H. realizes he doesn’t have to inherent her kids if he doesn’t want to. Approximately 4 million women ages 18-54 stop at McDonald’s for breakfast on their way to work the next day because it looked so tasty on the TV. I, as a McDonald’s stockowner, quit my job and give Kanye West $53 million because his financial woes is America’s most pressing problem right now. Everybody wins.
2) Cal Spas Hot Tub: The Bachelor has an official hot tub that it features exclusively on the show, and why not considering that hot tubs are involved in approximately 97.6% of the “dates” that are displayed on the television program. Cal Spas Hot Tubs is probably not that official brand, but they are the first one’s that popped up when I Googled “Top Kinds of Hot Tubs,” so you know they're good. Anyways, while recounting a complete history of the hot tub and its role in The Bachelor phenomenon is damn near impossible given the 14,500 word limit I place on myself in these posts, I can look at how The Bachelor has impacted the hot tub industry by referencing a very personal example of how hot tub usage has affected my own life.
My previous apartment, otherwise known as 14 square feet that I shared with my cousin, a family of raccoons, and that homeless dude who was living in a bag chair he had set up in my utility closet, came equipped with 1 amenity and 1 amenity only: a hot tub. I never used the tub of course, both because I am aware that hot tubs are the number 1 cause of the Zika virus in the United States and because I am deathly afraid of accidentally traveling back in time to the late 1980’s and seeing just how close my parents were to putting me up for adoption, but my neighbor, a single dude in his mid-30’s with a penchant for getting hammered drunk on weeknights, sure as shit did.
One evening, a Tuesday or a Wednesday perhaps, I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming off Communists brainwashing Americans through the beeping noise that goes off in your car when you don’t have your seatbelt on, and heard my neighbor down below my window in the bubbling water with a young lady, slurring his words and playing Usher tunes on his old school boom box. “Oh my God,” the lady said loudly enough for me to hear it clearly. “This is just like the Bachelor.” Yeah, trick. It is. If The Bachelor himself were an unemployed 38-year-old who owned a golf cart, and the woman he was taking out on a date could be seduced by boxed wine and “Love In This Club” playing on repeat on a device made in 1982.
3) Whoever Makes Ben’s Henleys: For those of you less stylish than myself, which includes just about all of you (unless you are Tyrese Gibson, who I am pretty sure reads this blog religiously), henleys are long sleeve shirts that are just like other, less cool long sleeved shirts only they have a couple of buttons at the top so that the dude who wears them can look casual and debonair. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about another fella who, like both me and Tyrese Gibson, wears henleys around town while looking like a big boss hoss: Ben Higgins.
Ben wears henleys in all-kinds of situations. When flying in airplanes. When hanging with Paul George and mentoring kids by saying nothing uplifting to them ever. When having off camera conversations with the shows producer about whether it is morally reprehensible to keep Olivia on the show, and out of rehab, for one more week. Where does Ben get his henleys? I buy mine at Target for approximately $3.72 (with tax). Something tells me Ben does the same. Why? Because everyone who is on this show is a low-key type person who wouldn’t spend a lot of money on their clothes. That’s why I always say about participants on the Bachelor and Bachelorette: they are prudent as F.
4) Alcohol-Alcohol is the most wonderous invention in the history of the world (sorry XM Radio and the Printing Press). I shouldn’t need to sell it to anyone. But just in case you were in an A&A meeting that hypnotized you into thinking that making good decisions and not falling asleep in a Japanese family’s rec room with no pants on is a better way to live your life and end a strong Tuesday, hop onto Hulu and take a crack at this season of The Bachelor. Because if a 23-year-old woman riding in the back of a limo crying and slurring her words while she waxes unpoetically about how she will never meet someone who loves her--as if suddenly getting drunk in a Bennigan's isn't a thing you can do--doesn't convince you that we need to start teaching kids how to drink in high school biology classes, then nothing ever will. Besides maybe this.
The Bachelor has sold me a lot of things, 3 or 4 according to this blog if we are being specific. But it has never sold me alcohol. I sold that to myself through hard work, determination, and a love to party. And no, Busch Beer did not pay me to write that last line. Product placement may have permeated our lives, but it will never permeat this Internet behemoth. Because no one will ever pay me to write about them in this blog. And I would never take their money.
I say that partly because it is true. I say that partly because no one has offered me any cash yet.