In this clip from The Colbert Report, Stephen discusses how his defamation of Miracle Whip spurred their marketing team’s decision to buy ad space during every commercial break. Stephan, however, ends the segment by alerting the world he will use those revenues to purchase more delicious mayonnaise concluding with the statement, “You win?”. Stephen’s final remark is interesting because it reveals some insight into how the three party system functions in the media industry.
In such a system the advertiser pays for ad space during programming which is meant to entice viewers to purchase their products. The programming thus comes to viewers free because the network uses the ad revenues to fund the production rather than charging a subscription fee (this is not necessarily the case though for comedy central which comes with a cable subscription but the model still works in essence). The reason “free” is still in question though is because consumers are supposed to in turn purchase the product thus supporting not only the producer but the three party system altogether.
Let us then consider Stephen’s final statement with more scrutiny. Stephen, in his repudiation of Miracle Whip, was performing his own sort of advertising in which we are convinced not to buy the mayonnaise substitute. Miracle Whip, in an act of what seemed like desperation, bought even more advertising space under the logic that more advertising will lead to more revenues; however, the issue with this is that Stephen will continue to defame Miracle Whip by buying more mayonnaise while the ad revenues continue to support his show and consequently his anti-Miracle Whip message.
In conclusion, we are able to see how the three party system functions to keep what is free nebulous. What it does not cover though is whether the programming actually supports the product. There could be a possible loophole in the entire system if Stephen, for example, actually has the power to sway his viewers away from Miracle Whip. Therefore, the only outcome of which we can be certain is that Miracle Whip never wins.