If you’re watching Zach Galifianakis’ new FX show Baskets, you have probably noticed a few things so far. You have probably noticed plenty of Galifianakis’ patented brand of off-beat comedy, which is probably to be expected in a show about a classically trained clown who learned under the masters in France and now works at a rodeo. You have probably noticed Kato Kaelin, as himself, singing the national anthem. And you have probably noticed lots of talk about Costco and Arby’s. Explanations for the first two were easy to think up (“well, yeah” and “idk why not let Kato sing the national anthem?”), but the third remained a bit of a mystery.
Until now. Adweek explains:
[E]ven though Costco and Arby’s are featured throughout the entire first season, neither is an actual integration. “Both are brands that we just wrote it into the script and then asked them if we could do it,” said Jonathan Krisel, the show’s co-creator and executive producer. “There’s no money involved. We’re not advertising for them, but it’s more about the authenticity of having the real thing and not having it be a fake brand. And both of them were accommodating in that we’re not celebrating them; we’re not making fun.”
So, there you have it. Good news for anyone who was concerned some sort of financial arrangement was behind the repeated references. And while the brands did get access to the scripts so they could know what they were signing on for, that glance is as far as it went, Krisel said.
While Costco and Arby’s saw Baskets scripts in advance, so both brands knew what they were getting into, “nothing changed,” Krisel said. “There was talk—’Oh, could you maybe …?’—and I said no.”
This is a fun twist on things. Where advertisers usually say, “We’ll give you money, but you have to do x, y, and z,” it’s a show saying, “We’ll give you free advertising, but we say what we want and you get no input.” Less lucrative, sure. But definitely way more fun.