Personally, I’m a huge mystery fan. I obviously spend a lot of time thinking about content marketing, too. Much to my surprise, the two interests intersected a few weeks ago when I opened up my DVR to catch up on a few recent episodes of Castle.
Before I go much farther, I think I should offer a disclaimer that I know this show evokes a love-it-or-hate-it reaction from viewers, as does the whole case of the week/procedural/murder mystery genre in general. Castle in particular is a bit predictable (usually the first new character with more than two lines turns out to be the murderer, after one red herring around half way through and another three-quarters of the way through), and not everyone feels the chemistry between the romantic leads, and yes, it is on the whole aimed at an audience of older women, but I like it. It’s not even a guilty pleasure, because I don’t really think you should feel “guilty” about something you enjoy and invest your time in…it’s just a show I enjoy.
On the other hand, I don’t usually love content marketing on television. The examples that come to mind are the ham-handed car commercials masquerading as dialogue, when sitcom characters inexplicably feel the need to discuss someone’s ride in detail. The scenes tend to be stilted, to say the least.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I was in the middle of an entire episode of content marketing during Castle’s Season 7 ep “In Plane Sight.” The plot is a nod to mystery classic Murder on the Orient Express as a passenger is found dead in the middle of Castle’s transatlantic flight. Castle turns to his trusty Apple technology to help him solve the crime, looping in the NYPD team for everything from fingerprint recognition to a by-proxy autopsy. The celebrated features include:
The use of technology to solve the murder was rather ingenious. Although the product placement was somewhat exaggerated, the way that the characters relied on the gadgets felt natural. Like all good content marketing, the implementation of the product enhanced the lives of the users, and in this case, helped bring a criminal to justice.
This wasn’t the first time that product placement featured in a television show, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it might be the best I’ve ever seen.