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Published on August 27th, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

Selling Motion Comics

While BBC America viewers can see a world exclusive Doctor Who Motion Comic - starring Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) designed to bridge the ad break and tonight’s episode Let’s Kill Hitler - there’s a price to pay for it.

According to The 60 second clip, sponsored by telecommunications giant AT&T, will feature a chase sequence deemed too expensive to shoot in live action and is directed by Hitler’s director Richard Senior.

What’s been branded as ‘the ultimate DVR buster’ by Mark Gall, BBC America’s exec VP-media sales, the vignette is just one of a number of ‘Hybrid Commercials’ currently being used by Ad Executives to integrate their products with your favourite shows.

Fans of Desperate Housewives were treated to Spirit embarrassingly shoe-horning in their cell phones into specifically shot mini-episodes of the show featuring cast members and made by the Desperate staff.

For Let’s Kill Hitler AT&T wanted to incorporate its slogan ‘rethink possible’ into the premiere episode. So the corporation along with its media agency, the BBC America ad sales team and Steven Moffat & Richard Senior created the ‘Motion Comic Sequence’ along with Double Barrel Motion Labs (Torchwood: Web of Lies) to work on those costly live action scenes in an affordable way.

Mark Gall comments:

“It hits all those key things AT&T needs. You’ll even hear the Doctor say things like ‘Anything is possible’ on the series because it’s part of his character, part of how people talk about him during the episodes.”

Which is rather depressing.

However the telecommunications company’s contribution won’t be noted in perpetuity. For any future digital media release the company’s logo will be removed from the vignette.

The whole thing is reminiscent of a one liner from Karen Gillan’s appearance on The Late Late Show where host Craig Ferguson joked about being done with stuff like Doctor Who once other people liked it.

Is this just a necessary evil for a show seeking wider audiences in the States and therefore should be seen as the future and not a threat to our paternal love for the show or are BBC America damaging the show’s cult appeal by making it so brand friendly?

Will there be a point where we’ll all get just a little bit Who’d out by it? Its not as if the BBC haven’t been selling the show anyway and anyhow – what do you think?


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

7 Responses to Selling Motion Comics

  1. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    I hate all this product placement particularly in US TV. I think it is essentially the ‘death of art’

    I tried to watch ‘Chuck’ once, it was clearly a good show, but hideously marred by relentless product placement to the point I found it unwatchable.

    worrying that the BBC, even BBC America gets involved in this crassness.

  2. avatar ian says:

    Does anyone else remember the good old days before Doctor Who starting to prostitute itself for the yankee dollar? This is nothing short of disgusting. How lomg will it be before the USA gets special commercial edits of episodes where The Doctor and his companions sit around the TARDIS drinking Pepsi and talking about how great their new iPhone is. That the production team went along with this travesty is heartbreaking.

  3. In the Beeb’s defense, take out all the AT&T garbage and the motion comic itself was actually pretty interesting. I wish they’d found the cash to shoot it live.

  4. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    It all comes down to if it’s obvious enough to notice. If the creative end is talented enough to bury product placement unobtrusively, I don’t care because I don’t realize it. They’ve been doing stuff like this for DECADES. Shows like Desperate Housewives is trash anyway so I doubt too many people mind a bit more trash thrown in. But for DW, it’s got to be just slight enough to appease the advertisers yet not get too obvious. Hey if it’s not noticeable and that means fewer commercials interrupting and less screen blurbs all over the place and it makes it easier to watch the show I love, then good. Some people, just knowing this type of thing happens, start to disregard the show itself and do nothing but search for these placements. And they’ll get hyper aware of things that aren’t even there. I pity these folks as their heads aren’t screwed on right anyway. It’s the world we live in and I won’t let it get in the way of my good time. Life’s too short.

  5. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    And for the US haters out there, yeah, the BBC desperately, desperately desperately wants our “yankee dollars”. They always have. They run a business. Businesses make money, it’s a sad but true fact. The Beeb, Moffat, just about anyone involved will do just about anything they can to grab some of it because it’s plentiful. We just have to hope that at some point, good judgement is observed and these stunts keep mainly contained to experiments like the motion comic in the commercial and not all over the show itself. Myself, I fast forwarded past the commercials and the motion comic sequence.

  6. avatar Bobbygaga says:

    Yes, but is that money being reinvested back into Doctor Who or is it going into BBC America’s coffers? It’s still sickening that the show can stoop so low. I’m not a hater of Americans but BBC America is ruining Doctor Who.

  7. avatar Herb Finn says:

    Product placement of sponsors products in American Television since 1946.

    One of the best known is Nestle’s Nescafe instant coffee and THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW. During “The Honeymooners” skits,there was ALWAY a jar of it on the kitchen table, and even worked into the dialog. (Not by name, usual as “Coffee in an Instant” or “Instant Coffee”)

    Oh, if it wasn’t for our “Yankee Dollars”, we wouldn’t have gotten a 4th season of TORCHWOOD!

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