Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Paying for Product Reviews

I received a call from the company that produces The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television. They wanted to feature our products on their show, but there was a pretty significant cost associated with it. Should I consider this opportunity?


By Jennifer Manocchio

It is not uncommon for Sweeney to receive calls from production companies that want to feature our clients’ products on their television show. The first time I received this type of call, I took the bait, but quickly learned after some investigating that this wasn’t a traditional media opportunity. In fact, it was a lot of smoke and mirrors.

In most cases these production companies fund specialty show by requiring companies to pay money for their product to be featured. The “producer” calling is typically an excellent sales person. He or she will rave about your product, make the opportunity sound glamorous and will push you with a quick timeline. Don’t fall into this trap. Traditional television news or credible talk show coverage (Ellen, Oprah, etc.) will not cost you anything and television news producers will not give you a sales pitch.

If you receive a call from a production company wanting to feature your product on their television show, ask these questions to determine if this is a media opportunity or simply advertising.

1. How many people watch this show? When you ask about audience reach, most production companies will tell you that the show “reaches X number of people”. However, since Neilson does not monitor most of these cable television shows there is no way to confirm the number of people actually watching the show.

2. How much will this cost? There is always a cost associated with these “opportunities”. Some could be as low as $5,000 and others can be as high as $40,000 and up. A traditional media opportunity with Good Morning America or CNN will not cost you a single penny. The most media will ask for is a product sample. And some media outlets will actually purchase the product on their own because the free sample can be considered a “gift” by the outlet’s guidelines.

In the case of The Balancing Act, I would immediately decline this advertising opportunity. You would be much better off investing that money into a publicity and media relations campaign where you can achieve two or three times the amount of coverage with more credible media.

Have questions or want to learn more about achieving high quality media coverage, contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.