It's getting a little too easy to point out some of the issues with The Restaurant, but since the Post and the Restaurant are going to town on the crass product placement, we'd be remiss not to weigh in as well. The Post says that Coors, American Express Open, and Mitsubishi paid $200,000 for each advertister slot, plus the article details how Rocco got a $350,000 fee for the series. One restaurant insider tells the Post, "I'm embarrassed by it. It gives you the impression we're just here to take the money and run. We're trying to build a clientele. I suppose you could call them fans if you want, but that's very Hollywood." In all fairness to Rocco, there are a fair number of restaurateurs who are in it for the money and do a worse job than Rocco. But for all of Rocco's blustering about a great experience and great food, Gothamist isn't buying it.
AdAge's Scott Donaton calls The Restaurant in how not to do brand integration. Donaton marvels that advertisers would even want to get involved, as "Rocco's range of emotions runs from anger to frustration. His employees are mostly malcontents. Diners complain the food is overpriced, cold and tasteless. Everyone mugs for the cameras. It's riveting, but only in the car-wreck sense." That's the thing, though: People like car wrecks. Joe Millionaire or The Bachelor anyone? But the product placement is so ridiculous on the show. Gothamist has seen more subtlety from Fox.
Speaking of crafty placements, a friend suggests that what's missing from the show is a compelling love interest for Rocco. (Note to producers of The Apprentice: Sex it up.) However, she admits that Rocco is perhaps too smarmy and annoying for a love interest, so Gothamist recommends a smack on the upside of the head from Mama.
See Rocco's American Express Open ads.