Remember the good old days when the host of a live television show would pause, light up a cigarette and begin to expound on the merits of that particular brand, while holding the pack so it could be seen on camera? Well, what's old is new again. Except for the cigarette ads – those are still illegal. But tomorrow's "Tonight Show" on NBC will feature a live spot for the Garmin satellite navigation devices for cars. Jay Leno won't be making the pitch, but will throw it to announcer John Melendez for a comic bit depicting the Garmin device as the cure for the male hesitancy to ask directions. The idea is to keep people from skipping the spot if they are not watching live. It won't look like the start of a typical spot block, and besides, if it really is funny, people will want to watch.
SmartMedia observation: Live spots never completely disappeared from broadcasting. They're still an important part of radio. Popular hosts often command premium prices for "live reads" because of the special intimacy with the listener of having a product pitched by a personality they trust, or at least find amusing. We note that Leno himself is not participating in this live spot. We wonder how much more it might be worth to Garmin to have Jay pilot his beloved motorcycle onto the set and consult the satellite navigation device to find the exit door.