Will Intuitive Surgical’s Appearance on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Boost Sales?

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Product placement in movies and TV shows has become commonplace. Usually it’s a casual shot that blends into the scenery, sometimes it’s a little more obvious – i.e. the Coke (KO) cups on the American Idol judges’ desk – and occasionally it hits you in the face. That was the case last night when I was being a couch potato watching the season finale of ABC’s (DIS) “Grey’s Anatomy” on TiVo last night.

Essentially two commercials for Intiuitive Surgical (ISRG), the company that makes operating-room robots, were embedded in the script for the show. And I can’t imagine the actors were happy about having to pretend over-the-top effusiveness and to recite lines that were so blatantly written into the episode because ISRG was paying for the storyline. Although, these days maybe the actors are resigned to the fact that this kind of stuff helps pay their salaries.

It went like this. The chief of surgery, Dr. Webber, is trying to keep one of his top docs, Bailey, from defecting from his staff to pediatrics. So, he tries to woo and wow her by playing Santa Claus and buying the latest state of the art ISRG equipment. “No, you did not,” Dr. Bailey said. (Yes, I actually rewound the TiVo and transcribed the dialogue.) “Oh, yes I did,” replied Dr. Webber. “The daVinci SiHD Surgical System,” he said like a proud papa. “Tell me you didn’t wait until I all but left the general surgery program to buy us a daVinci,” Dr. Bailey exclaimed. “Care to take it for a spin?” Webber asked. And then Bailey turns to him and with a #@*!-eating grin effuses, “Santa!”

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