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*~ Sale of the Century ~*

Competition or Commercial?

The game show that I selected to study was the popular quiz show, Sale of the Century.

Sale of the Century is a game show which prides it’s self on being intellectually challenging and competitive. But while trying to comply with it’s network’s demands of high ratings and major sponsors, has this game show become just one big add?

The show relies heavily on contestants competing to win the show’s range of prizes, but these prizes aren?t just randomly selected, each time a prize is mentioned it is being promoted for sale to the viewer. In the Sale of the Century, who is the real buyer?

In the episode that I viewed, eleven different prizes or products were revealed, and five different ways of winning them.

The first prizes were won by randomly picking a personality from a grid of famous faces. There is a possibility of winning six different prizes, and three ‘money’ prizes this way. A food processor from Urolec and a pair of leather wallets were won this way. These prizes are rarely helpful to the players in need of a bigger lead.

Players who do have a lead are often offered or tempted into buying from the gift shop. The show in no way tries to sell the contestant products that they might be remotely interested in, but tries to make the contestants feel that they are obliged to buy whatever the show’s sponsors are promoting.

The episode that I observed included a young surfer being convinced to buy three Guava evening dresses.

Sale of the Century also promotes gambling in an effort to sell it’s products. A segment called ‘Cash Card’ is also offered to the contestant with the most money. The contestant spends fifteen dollars to take their chances with the pokies. They aim to win the five thousand dollars cash, but the presenters still spend their time telling the contestant and audience how much better they’d be off with a brand new set of golf clubs.

The shows biggest commercial is at the end of the show when they describe with detail the qualities of a lounge suit, holiday, grand piano, necklace and sports car, when the contestant only ever has the chance of winning one of these.

The shows last set of prizes not only advertises a brand name, but the show it’s self. A Sale of the Century board game and Germarny Jewellery gold pin awarded to the losing contestants, tops the whole promotion off.

For a show all about the contestants, Sale of the Century spends a great deal of its game show time just selling its sponsor’s products.

As I watched the show I also timed how long was spent promoting products on the show.

The presenters spent an average of one and a half minutes talking about the prizes during the four and a half-minute segments. So on average the show spends almost a quarter of it’s time dwelling on what the contestant has or could win. All this advertising is done at the vital part of the show when the contestants are most closely competing to win. At the time you would have thought a food processor to be the last thing on the contestants mind.

Once the questions are over and done with, there is an opportunity for the show to spend more than twice as long selling it’s sponsor’s products. After the final round, which lasts sixty seconds, almost a rush to get it over with, the contestant is invited to “Go shopping!!!” which includes five minutes describing lounge suits, appliances, holidays, jewellery and cars that for the most, the contestant neither buys nor wins. This makes you wonder who is really going shopping.

Sale of the Century have many subtle techniques to sell their products to the viewers.

Those lovely models who seem to be everywhere on the show are just another way to make viewers feel they need whatever’s being sold. This technique is used world wide in almost every commercial on the planet, beautiful people and sex sell. People barely notice it, but when that attractive blond seems to enjoy using the new washing machine, the appliance somehow becomes more attractive.

Perhaps the most effective technique they use is repetition. That is when a product is mentioned throughout the show, as a prize to be won, just been won, or to be risked by coming back.

The prize we all remember most though, is the prize featured every episode, the Alpha Romaeo sports car. This repetitive advertising every week ensures that viewers never forget that product, which is a valuable promotion for the sponsor.

Sale of the Century does not stop at selling and promoting products.

It also is designed to promote it’s network and T.V programs.

It’s not always the case, but apart from sporting and other personalities, all the television personalities found on the ‘Famous Faces’ board were from programs found on the channel 9 network.

Details like this and generally promoting any major channel 9 event, are all subtle ways that Sale of the Century has been used to promote it’s network.

Considering the time spent, technique used and the structure of the show it is clear that Sale of the Century is principally used as an advertising tool. It is also clear that in some ways the competition between the contestants is just used to keep viewers tuned into one long advertisement of a network and it’s sponsors.

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