Hey, did everyone watch Alias Wednesday night? Not a fan? First let me get you up to speed …

Sydney Bristow (played by Jennifer Garner) is a covert CIA agent. She works with her father Jack Bristow, who happened to marry an undercover Russian spy (Syd’s mom). She also works with her boyfriend Michael Vaughn (Syd’s mother supposedly killed his father). Michael’s best friend Eric Weiss is also on the team. Eric works with his burgeoning love interest, Nadia. Get this, Nadia is … Sydney’s half sister (they have the same mother). Wait, it gets better … Nadia’s father is everyone’s new boss, Arvin Sloane, who, up until not too long ago, was considered to be an enemy of the United States. Oh yeah, Sloane (among other things) also had Sydney’s fiance killed, as well as the wife of another team member, Marcus Dixon. He obviously had an affair with Syd’s mom / Jack’s wife.

Can you see why I’m addicted to the show?

So what do these super spies do when they get together for a dinner party? No, everyone does not gang up on Sloane — he’s a good guy now after all! And they don’t fight over whose disguise is better or boast over who has the bigger gun or who uses the cooler gadgets. They talk about: hybrid cars. Yup, that’s right. On the March 9th episode of Alias, during the scene when the team gets together at Sloane’s house to celebrate Nadia’s birthday, they all have a chat about hybrid cars and the global oil economy. And apparently, Sydney drives (or has driven) a hybrid!IMHO, the scene did seem awkward and a little contrived, but I’ve been wondering if talking about these issues in shows like Alias, The West Wing, etc. has any impact. Would a viewer’s interest get piqued and start to consider buying the very same car their favorite secret agent drives? Would they at least research what a hybrid car is?

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I don’t claim to know these answers, so I went to the best possible resource: the Alias message boards. Not surprisingly, there were no obvious threads talking about hybrids or oil … so I decided to start one. As I write this, one person has already taken the bait and said they would consider buying a hybrid, but not because of the show.

What do you think? Do product placements, such as hybrids, or progressive issues interwoven into show scripts have an impact?

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Update [2005-3-10 20:45:3 by Chris Schults]: Another thread is also discussing this.