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Media Reviews for Media People: "Married on MySpace"

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Like most other old people who are confused by loud noises and blinky lights, I didn't get the MySpace phenomenon until long after it had been downgraded to a curiosity. I didn't see the point in virtual friendship when tangible friendship had served me so well for so long. Also, the exclamation-point abuse? Not my thing. Again: old.

'Married' is the first reality series in some time, offline or on, that eases commercial content into its flow in a way that feels both natural for viewers and worthwhile for marketers.
'Married' is the first reality series in some time, offline or on, that eases commercial content into its flow in a way that feels both natural for viewers and worthwhile for marketers.
But as friends and acquaintances started posting triumphantly mundane details of their lives on the site, my voyeuristic instinct kicked in. Next thing I knew, I had a MySpace page, or at least an account that allowed me to slink around unnoticed. Then came Facebook, and that was that. To the best of my knowledge, MySpace now exists mostly as a backdrop for "To Catch a Predator."

In the wake of "Married on MySpace," I might have to tweak that opinion. Forget the series itself, in which nice-but-not-too-nice-looking Elle and genial lunk Tito march to the altar, with MySpace voters making all the decisions along the way. So far, they've weighed in on the ring (they picked the one Elle wanted!) and are enmeshed in passionate discussion about the dress, with "Vision In Off-White With Foofy Frills" holding a slight edge over "Midnight Whore." It's that intense.

No, what's most interesting about "Married on MySpace" is the way it integrates brands and products. Seriously. "Married" is the first reality series in some time, offline or on, that eases commercial content into its flow in a way that feels both natural for viewers and worthwhile for marketers.

The subject matter makes for an obvious fit with presenting sponsor "The Proposal," a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy I will not be seeing unless I'm taken hostage. But where "Married" does best by its partners is in the little challenges along the way. Take the aforementioned search for the ring, in which Elle was shepherded into a Robbins Bros. store. The bauble retailer got to showcase its wares and services in front of a rabidly receptive audience. Even a rote, for-the-cameras recitation of its "World's biggest engagement-ring store" tagline didn't come off as gratuitous.

The possibilities are endless for the series' next 10 weeks (episodes make their debut every Thursday). There will almost certainly be a "presenting airline" for the couple's honeymoon journey. Record companies have likely already been tapped for first-dance possibilities. How much do you want to bet that when we get to Tito's bachelor party, both the Vegas Tourism Board and some local hotel/casino will be involved?

I'm looking forward to voting on that one, actually. I'll even throw out some tantalizing conceptual frameworks for the planners: "Goat Boy does forbidden tango," "Lawyers, guns and money," "A refreshing, lively repartee with Dick Cavett." How I haven't yet been asked to coordinate a bachelor party, I'll never know.

Anyway, any marketer whose product or service has anything to do with wedding planning or celebration ought to jump all over "Married on MySpace." How's that for a blanket assessment?

I should probably say a little more about the show itself. In a nutshell, it's "My Super Sweet Bachelor/Bachelorette Wedding" set to a "Grey's Anatomy" soundtrack. The bride and groom share their deepest, darkest secrets with the cameras ("This is CRAZY"). Everyone involved smiles and wishes the couple well every opportunity they get. If there's a hint of strife in the planning process, we don't see it. Everything is hearts and hugs and rainbows and la la la la la.

I haven't yet taken the plunge, so I can't weigh in on whether "Married" paints a remotely accurate picture of the wedding buildup. All I know is that my little sister stabbed my brother-in-law in the forearm with a shrimp fork when he had the audacity to suggest mini weenies for the cocktail hour. It's possible we're getting a sanitized version, is what I'm trying to say, and that's fine. Somebody else can chronicle the relationship fissures.

Web crawlers won't notice what's best about "Married on MySpace." They'll tune in for the carefully edited drama and the opportunity to express consternation about Elle's overapplication of eyeliner. Most won't realize just how skillful a job the show's integration minions have done, and that's to the show's great credit. "Married on MySpace" may be weightless from a content perspective, but it's one of the best marketing vehicles I've ever seen.

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