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'Fighting Mad' Anthony Bourdain Trashes Travel Channel Over Ad Integration

Says He Never Approved His Likeness in Cadillac Spot

By Published on . 5

Anthony Bourdain, the outspoken chef and former host of Travel Channel's "No Reservations," is lashing out against the network after it aired Cadillac spots that he claims were doctored.

Anthony Bourdain in the final episode of 'No Reservations'
Anthony Bourdain in the final episode of 'No Reservations' Credit: Travel Channel

"It came as a shock and a disappointment to turn on the TV for the last two episodes of my show, and see that someone had taken footage that me and my creative team had shot for my show, cut it up and edited it together with scenes of a new Cadillac driving through the forest," Mr. Bourdain said on his blog in a post headlined "Fighting Mad."

Scenes of me, my face, and with my voice, were edited in such a way as to suggest that I might be driving that Cadillac. That, at least, I was very likely IN that Cadillac—and that if nothing else, I sure as shit was endorsing Cadillac as the vehicle of choice for my show. All this following seamlessly from the actual show so you were halfway through the damn thing before you even realized it was a commercial.

Mr. Bourdain wrote that he understands the value of advertising but is very careful about incorporating brands into his series. His terms with Travel Channel, which is owned by Scripps Networks, give him the right to sign off before his name or image are used to endorse products, he said.

Travel Channel was not eager to discuss the situation in a public forum. "We've enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Tony and his production team, but his decision to make further remarks on this matter in the public domain is unfortunate," a spokesperson said Monday evening.

Mr. Bourdain's lengthy blog post expanded on a series of tweets last week. Cadillac said then that Travel Channel produced the promos. "So we're in the crossfire of Bourdain's feud with Travel Channel," a spokesman told Jalopnik.

Mr. Bourdain's relationship with Travel Channel came to a close after eight seasons with the finale of "No Reservations" on Nov. 5. He will be joining CNN early next year to host a weekend series focused on food and travel.

More and more people are fast-forwarding through traditional commercials, Mr. Bourdain noted in his "Fighting Mad" post. "For this reason," he wrote, "there's pressure from networks to 'integrate' products into the body of the actual shows whenever possible: to slip images of brands right into the action, or to transitions into commercials in such a way as to make the viewer think that it's still the show they're watching."

ABC's "Revenge" demonstrated that sort of strategy during Sunday's episode, when Target and Neiman Marcus bought out the ad inventory for five long-form commercials featuring the cast of the drama for a "story with a story."

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