Last week Tina Fey herself said that there was no product placement deal involved in this. And today, Ad Age did some "reporting" and, according to both McDonald's and NBC, that's right, this was no paid product placement deal; 30 Rock writers just love the McFlurry that much:
As it turns out, the McDonald's inclusion was really part of the script; McDonald's didn't pay for it, said Jennifer Lane Landolt, director-entertainment alliances for McDonald's. NBC's ad-sales department was also made aware of the inclusion, according to an NBC spokeswoman.
"30 Rock" approached executives from the restaurant chain in advance, asking if they could make use of a McDonald's restaurant for filming purposes, she said. McDonald's executives examined the script and found nothing in it that portrayed the company and its restaurants in a bad light, Ms. Lane Landolt said. "If we felt that something disparaged the brand, we would have pushed back on what they did, but no, we didn't make any changes," she said. The episode was shot in a restaurant operated by an independent New York City franchisee, who was paid for the time his store was closed. The McDonald's ad that ran during the show was "part of our traditional media buy," said Ms. Lane Landolt; no advertising was moved around specifically to be near the "30 Rock" episode.
There you have it: this was a totally organic thing. I have no factual basis whatsoever to say, "Bullshit, they're obviously cuddling up to advertisers during a recession, this is all semantics, they'll get their money on the back end." [Ad Age]