The advertisers, which so far include Pepsi and Nokia phones, are buying six hours of air time to create what the program’s producer, Michael Davies, called “a contemporary, hip Ed Sullivan show” for the youth-oriented WB Network, part of AOL Time Warner. The hourlong program, to be broadcast for six weeks this summer, will try to highlight the companies’ products in various ways, like putting singers on a set dominated by a logo or building comedy routines around a product.

Didn’t they try that in the Dana Carvey Show? For whatever its worth, the desire for commercial product advertisers to get the attention of any and all living souls should never be underestimated. The real story in the whole peice (for me) is that things are moving full circle in the history of TV advertising:

While the move is billed as a forward-looking response to a technological threat to the business, it actually harks back to television’s earliest days, when a single sponsor bought a time period and presented a show, like the “Kraft Television Theater” or “The Philco Television Playhouse,” and featured only its own products in its commercials. The roots go even deeper, all the way back to the beginning of soap operas, a genre that owes its name to the laundry detergents that began sponsoring them on radio. Early soap operas incorporated scenes that had characters do the washing while praising the product.