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Sometimes, an advertisement will deliberately resemble the show it's running with. This is designed to catch those who are fast-forwarding through, or just not paying attention to, the ad breaks.

This may be a throwback to the early days of television and radio, where the hosts of variety programs would hawk the sponsor's wares without even a break in the action. Not to be confused with things like Follow the Leader or Better by a Different Name, where two works are similar.


Examples (sorted by the media the ad appears in):

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    Asian Animation 

  • Before the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film, a preview for the Disney Chicken Little movie started with a "Vogons destroying the world" sequence that suddenly stopped to flash the words "Don't Panic" on it...then the scene, and the "Don't", fall down as if cardboard. In fact, up to this last part, it was an exact copy of an early trailer for the Hitchhiker's movie itself. Those who knew about this trailer might have been confused as to why they were seeing an ad for the movie they were about to watch.
  • An awful lot of "Don't talk in the theater" ads do this.
    • Common in UK cinemas is the Orange mobile phone network skits where they will take an upcoming movie and then put in blatant product placement for Orange. Usually something along the lines of the two marketing guys explaining to the actors how the character is motivated by free talk time, how the latest handset will help the situation or the actors looking awkward as an Orange logo is placed haphazardly into a scene. The tag line is "Don't let a mobile ruin the movie. Switch it off". See here for an example: [1]
  • Those two examples were for films from the same studio.
    • Before WALL•E, a Disney/Pixar release, is an original teaser for The Pink Panther 2 (Sony/MGM) in which Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau attempts to sneak into a showing of WALL•E.
    • There was a version of this ad for Kung Fu Panda, too, which seems to suggest that they've made more than a few variations on this ad.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An orange juice ad featuring the skyline of New York aired in the United Kingdom during the transmission of CSI: NY.
  • This is common on sporting events, especially golf, even for products not directly related to the sport in question. This often has a dual purpose of attention-grabbing and synergistic marketing.
  • While Angel was sponsored by Verizon, many episodes included bumpers that showed the "Can you hear me now?" guy testing his phone in various sets from the show.
  • A Guinness commercial occasionally airs after Mythbusters, busting a myth about Guinness.
  • The Addams Family was preceded by a trailer for Wayne's World which was set in the Addams Family graveyard.
  • Some of these types of ads ran during the final episode of Seinfeld. Coca-Cola had one with lines of text that referred to "in-jokes" in the series (e.g., "...and start double dipping"). No punchline, no real connection to Coke, just a bunch of random references. Picture a person who randomly quotes cartoons and comedy skits with no context. This was the ad equivalent.
  • Game shows in general, and Jeopardy! in particular, have been guilty of this to varying degrees when introducing the ads for their specific sponsors. On Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White will always do one of her on-location bumpers for their sponsors.
  • In and around the series finale of Lost, Target showed a series of ads showing a situation relating to the series followed by a product sold by Target that could solve the problem easily.
  • Done in Italy in 2009-2010 for commercials airing during House or The Bold and the Beautiful, featuring extras whose faces are never shown dubbed over by the show's voice actors.
    • In 2014, a car ad in Spain did a "sound-only" variant of this, with The Simpsons of all shows. With the characters' Spanish voices coming out of traffic lights. Of course no names were given, but it was obvious enough even before they made an Incredibly Lame Pun on the Spanish version of Bart's early catchphrase "eat my shorts".
  • British commercial TV is not officially allowed product placement. But it gets around this by a process where somehow the adverts reinforce the theme of the show and the two mutually feed off each other. For instance, Coronation Street is a popular soap about community and close-knit neighbours. It isn't a complete random coincidence that means the advert breaks have a higher-than-normal proportion of building and property development adverts for s such as Barratt Homes. similarly, feelgood holiday comedy Benidorm is screening in a cold wet January; the advert breaks are chocca with tantalising sunny package holidays. Also, a rather old advert featuring Joan Collins came up three times in the commercial breaks during the show. While it had nothing to do with sunny holidays, Ms Collins is going to be joining the cast of the show quite soon... mutual reinforcement between adverts and programme!
  • While ABC Family was airing reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, they often aired an ad for Progressive Insurance starring Ryan Stiles (a star of Whose Line), who has convinced himself that he is getting special treatment because he's a celebrity.
  • GEICO runs ads during Portlandia that are set in Portland and mimic the show's style (down the same graphics font) with specific references to sketches the show has done.
  • When BBC America runs Doctor Who, it will often show a scene from later in the episode in the middle of a commercial break, as a "stay tuned for more" thing. It's not just similar to the show, it is the show- but it serves the same purpose of catching fast-forwarders off guard.
  • Both NBC and Fox's live Broadway musical specials have had examples at times:
    • Walmart had ads during The Sound of Music with songs from the musical, synced to air after the corresponding scene. Reddi-wip similarly aired a commercial with school students singing "A Brand New Day" from The Wiz after it was first sung, promoting its musical arts grants to schools.
    • Sometimes they've been done live and performed on the show's stages: NBC's Hairspray had live commercials with Corny Collins (already a television host in-universe) hawking Oreos not unlike a commercial segment from a show in the 1950's, and a milkman dancing backstage for Reddi-wip. Meanwhile, Fox's A Christmas Story had a commercial featuring a live performance of a number from the upcoming musical film The Greatest Showman, featuring the film's stars on-set. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul had penned the music for both.

  • On FM radio, commercials often imitate a "Morning Zoo"-type group of DJs talking about the product being advertised.
  • Transcripts of the 1930s radio show Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, which starred Groucho and Chico Marx, include flawless segues from comedy material into advertisements for the sponsor's products: "That really knocked me for a loop." "It could have knocked you for an Essoloop!" "No, Essolube is the famous hydrofined motor oil." "And don't forget Esso, which is more powerful than any gasoline!"
  • Some radio show hosts have turned a smooth transition from their topic to endorsements into an artform. Rush Limbaugh will be on a standard rant about why the poor economy is the democrats fault and that this is why you should invest in gold! Particularly amusing are the varied ways he transitions into selling Renai Tankless Hot Water Heaters: "Perhaps [Nancy] Pelosi's heart wouldn't be as cold as ice if she invested in a Renai Tankless Hot Water Heater, capable of keeping your water warm no matter how long you use the shower!"

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Animalympics, where the pole vaulting sequence segues directly into a breakfast cereal commercial.
  • Hanna-Barbera's 1966 Alice in Wonderland special included two Rexall commercials which featured characters from the show. Both of them can be viewed on YouTube: #1 and #2
  • Parodied in the Futurama episode "Saturday Morning Fun Pit", where by the end of "Purpleberry Pond" the distinction between the actual cartoon and the commercials for the associated Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs had completely disintergated.