Get your Schrute Farms Beets gear here!

Update November 18, 2007: I withdrew this post a few weeks ago, after receiving an email from CafePress notifying me that they had received a cease and desist notice from NBC/Universal’s lawyers regarding the huge number of CafePress shops that were selling products that infringed upon NBC’s intellectual property rights to every word uttered in an episode of The Office — or for that matter, every thought that has ever passed through the minds of the show’s writers. Or something like that. At any rate, CafePress had already summarily removed all “Schrute Farms Beets” items from my store. I don’t blame them; it’s just lame that NBC is taking this approach. Of course, that’s partly because NBC is selling their own Schrute Farms Beets shirts, which naturally are more accurate to the one Dwight wore in the episode. (Mine wasn’t quite homemade-looking enough.) So if you’re looking for a Schrute Farms Beets shirt, by all means buy the official product. But if, on the other hand, you are interested in one of my other stupid original designs (the sliver of hope of which is what inspired me to reinstate this post), read on.

Schrute Farms Beets long-sleeve t-shirtAfter last night’s uproarious season premiere of The Office, I couldn’t resist the temptation to jump on the unofficial merch bandwagon with the 2000+ other Office-inspired items available on CafePress, mainly because no one else seems yet to have nailed the cheap, homemade, stenciled look of Dwight’s “Schrute Farms Beets” shirt. I didn’t totally nail it either, without a perfectly accurate stencil font at my disposal, but this is at least a lot closer than what else I’ve seen out there. (A lot of people have come up with very elaborate and well-designed logos for the Schrute Family Farm, but they seem to have missed the point. Last night’s episode demonstrates that if the Schrutes did have shirts, they would only sport the most rudimentary of designs.)

And so, my offering. I’ve attempted to recreate the “bleed-over” look of a painted-on stencil, since that appears to be how the actual shirt Rainn Wilson was wearing was made. Three styles of shirts are available now in the Room 34 Online Store with this design.

But Wait! There’s More!

I went a bit crazy with the designs tonight. Here are a few more that are also available now! (Click on any for a closer look. Then click here to buy one! You know you want to!)

Old OLD School. Tha 507, representing Southern Minnesota Seven Days without Pizza Makes One Weak!

Product placement? Fine, but then can you get rid of commercial breaks?

Product placement is as old as TV itself, and if anything it’s less insidious now than it was in the early days of television. But it seems to be coming back in a big way, and while I’m over my initial offense at seeing my favorite shows turn into “advertainment,” I still find it incredibly distracting, even when it’s funny.

Case in point, in last night’s episode of The Office, Kevin got some rare screen time and proceeded to giddily demonstrate the awesome power of the company’s shredder. Note I called it a “shredder,” not a “paper shredder,” because as Kevin demonstrated, it can shred not only a fistful of paper at once, but also such surprising objects as CDs and (OK, this joke was a little too broad) credit cards.

The thing that distracted me was that there was a prominently placed “Staples” logo on the front of the shredder. In fact, it looked like a sticker slapped on for advertising purposes in the show, and not something that’s actually a part of the unit’s design.

What really got me was that at the next commercial break, there was a Staples ad for this exact shredder!

I’ve gotten used to the product placement in The Office, what with the frequent after-work visits to Chili’s (always prominently showing the neon sign outside), and the entire Christmas episode written around the iPod. But it’s getting to the point where in some ways the show feels like a lead-in to the commercial break.

Earlier, a network promo pumped up interest in upcoming NBC shows next week, and concluded with “…And stay tuned for Ellen’s new commercial!” which at first suggested to me that Ellen DeGeneres was starting a new primetime NBC show. But no. It was an American Express commercial. And NBC promoted it as if it were one of their programs. (They even had her name on screen with the bouncing letters and pointing peacock feather that they’re using this year.)

Then, of course, we have the premiere episode of 30 Rock, in which Alec Baldwin’s character bragged about having invented the GE Trivection Oven (and how he had been promoted to Director of Television and Microwave Programming). The way the oven was described in the show made it seem like an over-the-top joke (the way SNL, I believe it was, had joked about four-blade razors a few years ago… certainly before Gillette introduced a five-blade razor last year — although I suppose technically that’s actually a “5.1-blade” razor, in true Surround Sound style). But then, you guessed it, the first commercial break featured an ad for none other than the GE Trivection Oven… a real product! (And one manufactured by NBC’s parent company, no less.)

I’d be outraged, if I weren’t such a tool.

Oh, by the way… if anyone wants to get me that shredder or a Trivection for Christmas, I’d love to receive either.