30 advertisers and a wedding: TNT remembers (and hires) Boyz II Men, and lots of sponsors

Bless their hearts, Holli and Steve from Saginaw, Michigan: the newlyweds who starred in last night's premiere of TNT's "Wedding Day." (Produced by Mark Burnett, the show is basically "Extreme Home Makeover" for nuptials.) I can guarantee you that, despite a wedding that featured 500 pounds of bulk candy, a cheerleading squad, and a camera crew, Holli and Steve's guests were all talking about the same thing the next day: the performance by Boyz II Men.

No, seriously. Boyz II Men. I, for one, would be thrilled to have them play my wedding -- if I could plan my wedding for a nice summer night in 1991. Back then, my weekends mostly involved devising and revising dance routines to "Motownphilly." Watching the much older Boyz take the stage at Holli and Steve's reception, I was mildly horrified for the couple.

But the R&B crooners played an important role at the wedding -- they distracted the guests from the parade of product-placement that TNT had integrated into the celebration. A whopping 30 companies were showcased in the hour episode. That's one corporate shout-out every two minutes.

The logo shots and name drops were coming fast and furious, yet their frequency wasn't the most ridiculous thing about the show's sponsorship -- it was the lengths producers went to in order to work in all those brands. (I mean, I'm planning my wedding, and I can tell you right now, I'm not going to end up with 30 vendors.) But TNT didn't let the limits of a conventional wedding stop them. They came up with some pretty creative ways to get sponsors onscreen. Including:

coaching the bride to like Badgley Mischka.
Okay, admittedly, it's not like it's tough to get a girl to fall in love with this duo's fairytale frocks. But I'm pretty sure the producers would have had to work out the details of a giveaway gown with the designers way before Holli eagerly called the duo her "dream dressmakers." And my suspicions deepened later in the show, when poor Holli mispronounced "Badgley."

bringing in Nationwide Insurance to ... um, decorate the house.
Besides the wedding, Holli and Steve received another surprise: "Wedding Day" finished and furnished their new house. The hotel-style couches and home gym came compliments of Nationwide Insurance, which was also kind enough to hang a giant emblem-splashed banner on their front porch and send a spokesperson to the rehearsal dinner.

Pretty hokey, but I'll take it over that awful "My Boys" deal a month back, when a storyline actually revolved around the characters' having the Nationwide jingle stuck in their heads.

putting the locals up at the Comfort Inn.
Before he put them through a long day of revamping the church, co-host Alan Dunn whipped up waffles for the groomsmen at the local Comfort Inn's breakfast buffet. Which is when I thought, Wait, why are all these guys staying at the Comfort Inn? They live right in town.

But someone had to stay there. Otherwise, the producers would have had no reason to let the cameras linger on the hotel's highway sign and front-desk marquee. The chain turned out to be one of the show's biggest backers -- it dominated commercial breaks -- so I hope the producers will find less awkward ways to include it in future episodes.

ripping up the chapel.
The hometown hotel-stay may have been silly, but the producers' wackiest move, far and away, was their absurd plan to renovate the church where Holli and Steve were married. Here's what my wedding research has yielded so far: when it comes to the church, you can bring your own flowers and pick your readings and music -- and that's about it. But lucky TNT: they found a parish that was more than happy to let them rip up their carpet, refinish their floors, build a stone wall in the foyer and install new stained-glass panels.

Necessary? No way. Insane? Absolutely. But taking on the renovations opened up opportunities for glass, flooring and decor retailers to join in on the product placement fun -- and that likely had TNT marketing execs humming "Oh, Happy Day!" all the way to the bank.
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