Why spend the time catching "24", "Ugly Betty", "The Game" or "Top Chef" when you can use your TiVo (Nasdaq:TIVO) or DVR recorder from, let's say, Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) to record the show and catch up on it over the weekend? The convenience for viewers is a business problem for television advertisers. One method growing in popularity is product placement in popular programming. Let's take a look at a few shows and companies exercising their subliminal marketing capabilities.

Short List
According to the Tuned In Journal produced by Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and data from the Nielson Co., following is a sample list of publicly traded companies that engaged in product placement in 2008 and elicited a positive opinion of the brand.

IN PICTURES: How To Make Your First $1 Million

CVS Pharmacy
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC is a reality-TV show in which a deserving family is chosen to have its current home demolished and a new home constructed with extra design specifications to make life at home an absolute dream. CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) is contracted to provide supplies and pay bills for the selected families. CVS Caremark is down 31% over the past 12 months ending February 13, but given its low 0.75 price/earnings to growth ratio, its expected three- to five-year earnings potential provides a strong signal for growth. (To learn more about the price/earnings to growth ratio, be sure to read PEG Ratio Nails Down Value Stocks.)

TRESemme by Alberto-Culver
"Project Runway" on Bravo is another reality-TV show in which aspiring fashion designers sew and stitch their way toward becoming crowned the show's new top fashionista. Alberto-Culver's (NYSE:ACV) TRESemme product line supplies prizes to the winners. Alberto-Culver's stock offers a low correlation to a broad market index like the S&P 500 given its low beta of 0.4. Although it is smaller in terms of revenues and market capitalization than other personal care product providers like Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) and Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL), its stock has outperformed both over the past 12 months through February 13.

Whole Foods Market
"Top Chef" is another popular Bravo reality-TV show in which chefs and cooking aficionados compete in a series of challenges and quick fires to become the show's champion. Contestants on multiple occasions are given a set amount of money and 30 minutes to comb through the aisles of Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq:WFMI) for their next culinary creation. Whole Foods stock has fallen 70% over the past 12 months. Although the company has decided not to release comparable same-store sales estimates for fiscal year 2009, citing the rapidly changing economic environment, Whole Foods is hoping the combination of advertising, new store openings at the end of 2008 and a recovery in economic conditions will continue to grow its business.

Final Thoughts
The downturn in the economy in the short term will make it difficult to determine how product-placement ads will translate into stock market performance. As an investor, the takeaway is to notice when the next product or service slides into your favorite show as a sign of advertisers changing with the times in hopes of boosting future revenues.

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Why the Bullish Are Turning Bearish

    Banks are reducing their targets for the S&P 500 for 2016. Here's why.
  2. Stock Analysis

    How to Find Quality Stocks Amid the Wreckage

    Finding companies with good earnings and hitting on all cylinders in this environment, although possible, is not easy.
  3. Investing News

    What You Can Learn from Carl Icahn's Mistakes

    Carl Icahn has been a stellar performer in the investment world for decades, but following his lead these days could be dangerous.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
  5. Investing News

    Icahn's Bet on Cheniere Energy: Should You Follow?

    Investing legend Carl Icahn continues to lose money on Cheniere Energy, but he's increasing his stake. Should you follow his lead?
  6. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Google's Return on Equity (ROE) (GOOGL)

    Learn about Alphabet's return on equity. How has its ROE changed over time, how does it compare to its peers and what factors are driving ROE for the company?
  7. Investing News

    Is Buffett's Bet on Oil Right for You? (XOM, PSX)

    Oil stocks are getting trounced, but Warren Buffett still likes one of them. Should you follow the leader?
  8. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Sprint Corp's Return on Equity (ROE) (S)

    Learn about Sprint's return on equity. Find out why its ROE is negative and how asset turnover and financial leverage impact ROE relative to Sprint's peers.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Why Alphabet is the Best of the 'FANGs' for 2016

    Alphabet just impressed the street, but is it the best FANG stock?
  1. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center