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Character Shill

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From the early days of TV and radio, this is a type of commercial where the action stops and the show's characters just talk about the sponsor. Sister trope to Enforced Plug, where the characters try to work the shill into the story itself.

Not to Be Confused with Creator's Pet. Or even The Shill, really. Or Character Shilling. Compare and contrast Neurosis Commercialis and Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.


And Now A Word From Our Examples:

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  • Mercilessly mocked in Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, where the director claimed to run out of money halfway through the movie, prompting the cast to blatantly plug various products and companies until one guy gets sick of it and asks "Do we have enough money to finish this turkey yet?"
  • In The Truman Show, as there are no commercials on the show, advertising is done purely through product placement, mainly handled by the actress playing Truman's wife. It's initially played for laughs, but gets spun for drama when, during a climactic argument, she begins shilling him cocoa powder completely out of nowhere. This does not help his increasing paranoia that his life is a big lie and that she's part of it.
  • In The Cat in the Hat, during a wild ride through a Seussian-looking landscape, one of the kids exclaims, "It's like a ride at an amusement park!" The Cat responds, "You mean like at...Universal Studios? Hahahahaha, cha-ching!" while holding up tickets to Universal and winking to the audience.

     Live Action TV  

  • The George Burns and Gracie Allen television show would feature segments with Harry von Zell wandering around supermarkets and discussing Carnation Evaporated Milk.
  • 30 Rock tends to turn Product Placement into this for the sake of humor.
  • Commercials for The Andy Griffith Show included the show characters, in character, and often within the plotline of the episode itself, plugging the sponsor's product — and not always in ways that fit the show's continuity. For example, Andy might shuck an ear of corn to reveal Post Toasties...or even more surreal, Barney might put one over on Andy.


  • Dragnet featured breaks with Jack Webb (the actor who played Joe Friday) advertising for Fatima Cigarettes.
  • The Jack Benny Program had its announcer, Don Wilson frequently play himself as a character who would interrupt whatever sketch or play he was put in to deliver a commercial for the show's sponsor (Jello, Grape Nuts, Lucky Strike cigarettes, etc), with the other characters occasionally commenting on his habit of doing so. Parodied in the Looney Tunes short The Mouse That Jack Built in which the entire cast play themselves as animated mice. Midway through the short Don shows up, tries to deliver a commercial, and has to have it explained to him that this is a theatrical short and doesn't have a sponsor.


     Web Video  

  • Parodied in Italian Spiderman when our hero (who's already chainsmoking his way through the entire film anyway) takes time out to do nothing except really enjoy a fictional Il Gallo brand cigarette and reflect on how good it is for a while.

     Western Animation  

  • Parodied on The Simpsons, with John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon pausing in the midst of their debate to plug Duff Beer.
    Nixon: Well I would suggest, Mr. Vancouver, that if you knew the President that, that was just a facetious remark.
    Announcer: And now a word from our sponsor.
    Kennedy: I would like to take this opportunity to announce my fondness for, ah, Duff Beer. (audience cheers)
    Nixon: I'd also like to express, er, my fondness for that particular beer. (audience grumbles)



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