Philips Pronto on ‘Modern Family’: Worst Product Placement Ever?

Look what happens when you try to program a remote control yourself. Moral of the the story: Hire a pro!

Julie Jacobson · January 25, 2010

Modern Family is a hilarious show. Unfortunately for Philips, however, the company’s Pronto remote control is the butt of a giant joke in an episode that aired on Jan. 20 (season 1, episode 13).

Not since Ozzy Osborne gave Panja (formerly AMX, laterly AMX) a very public bashing on national TV have we seen a product placement so bad.

The Modern Family starts with an exasperated Mom who can’t turn on the TV with her touchscreen remote control—a remote that was programmed by her husband (who probably doesn’t ask for directions, either). Here’s how the episode unravels:

Dad: I just installed a sweet home theater system in the family room. The trouble is, Claire [the wife] struggles with technology of any kind – remotes, cell phones, computers.


Where were you pointing at?

Mom: At the TV.

Dad: Honey, no I’m sorry it’s a home theater.

Mom: What, so I can’t point it at the TV when I want to watch TV?

Dad: No, you point it at the receiver

Mom: What’s a receiver?

Dad: OK, imagine our home theater system is a human body so that the receiver is the brain. The TV is a face.

And later…


Mom: I’ve got a bunch of moms over here who want to watch a talent show DVD and I can’t get the sound to work.

Dad: Is there a picture?

Mom: Yes

Dad: Did you do that thing where you get frustrated and you start pressing all the buttons?

Mom: No. [lying] ...

I have a theory that Phil installs overly complicated things in the house just so he has excuse to talk to me like a child.

Last month was the thermostat. …


Dad [sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”]:
The snowflake button makes it cold cold cold
Set temperature makes it hold hold hold
The little flame makes it hot hot hot

Dad: Why would you do that to a brand new, very expensive remote?

Mom: Because I lost my temper and it didn’t work; therefore, it’s useless.

Dad: Honey, when it comes to anything electronic, you’re not exactly the best student.

Mom: I am very smart. I had a 4.0 in college. …

Dad: Seriously, Claire, you owe me an apology for breaking that.

Mom: OK, Phil, I apologize for breaking the world’s worst remote … that you bought … stupidly.

Dad: Excuse me, but the experts at rated it “the best remote.” They gave it 3 ½ mice.

Mom: Well, I have an idea. Let’s invite the gang from CNET over and your old buddies from cheerleading and we can have a nerd party. …

Dad: I’m going to buy a new remote, the same remote. And just to prove how wrong you are, I’m going to teach our dumbest kid to use it in 20 minutes or less.


Haley: Dad, this is so stupid. I watch TV on my computer. Why would I have to learn this?

Dad: Because your mom doesn’t think you can.

Haley: Nobody can.

Dad: Haley, listen to me. I know this seems impossible, but this is for all those times that mom told you she was right and you knew she was wrong.

Haley: I’ll do it.

Dad: That’s my girl.

Dad: Haley, you ready?

Haley: Let’s do this.


Mom: Turn on the TV

[Haley points to rack, turns on TV]

Dad: Nice

Mom: Mute it

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: Unmute it

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: Put on a DVD.

[Haley succeeds]

Mom: skip forward

Haley: Wait

[Mom gloats]

Haley [succeeds]: OK

Mom: Back to TV

Dad: Faaaaace [Is that some kind of gloating term?]


Mom: Don’t get all cocky Phil. Let’s see what happens to little Haley when I do this. [Presses button on TV; picture goes static.]

Haley: Dad, what do I do?

Dad: Don’t panic. We went through this. Just think.

Mom [gloating]: Give up? Give up, admit defeat.

Haley: OK, let’s see. You put the remote on to TV mode, and then push input till you get
HDMI 1 and [succeeding]…. Woo hoo, I did it! [Merriment ensues]

Watch the complete episode of Modern Family

That was then: Ozzy Osborne can’t work the f-ing touchscreen.

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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