On Tuesday's Nightly News, Brian Williams took 30 seconds to tell us all about Heinz's exciting new ketchup packages: "There's a new fast food staple coming our way after years of fighting with the old ones. Heinz is out with a new vessel for fast food ketchup. It's shaped differently, it opens differently, contains three times the amount of product in the old packets. They're already being used at some Dairy Queens, Wendy's gets them later in the year--no comment yet from the really big players--McDonald's and Burger King." The accompanying video showed plenty of promotional footage of people using the new Heinz packets. (I'm surprised that Brian didn't conduct a live in-studio demonstration.) Once again, Brian has read a press release--possibly verbatim--from a regular NBC advertiser. Of course, this isn't surprising. One of Brian's main goals as Nightly News anchor is to use his broadcast to promote the products of regular NBC advertisers. But Nightly News viewers know all about the new Heinz packages. That's because Brian already told us about them on the 2/4/10 Nightly News. That night, he also took 30 seconds of valuable news time to promote Heinz's new packets. He called the packets, "The biggest development in the fast food business in generations." He also told us that, "The days of squeezing out the contents of 29 separate ketchup packs on your McDonald's wrapper will soon come to an end." Of course, Brian could have said "hamburger wrapper" instead of "McDonald's wrapper", but then he would have missed a golden opportunity to plug the Golden Arches, one of Brian's favorite pastimes. It's certainly no surprise that he managed to work McDonald's into Tuesday's story. Like Alec Baldwin's character said in Glengarry Glen Ross, "Always be closing." That's Brian's philosophy. And "always be promoting", too. He's always happy to do an on-screen product placement for a regular advertiser.
Meanwhile, the Aug. 24 New York Times carried an article on Heinz in their business section. The article told us that Heinz's profits for the first quarter were down 6%. It also told us that Heinz would be raising prices, cutting jobs and closing plants in 2012 in order to improve its bottom line. Brian Williams did not report any of this. That's because Brian has a policy of not reporting negative news about NBC advertisers unless absolutely necessary. Brian would much rather read a press release about Heinz's new ketchup packets than tell us about plant closings, layoffs and price increases. Keep up the great work, Brian.