Chloe: "It's definitely a denial-of-service attempt."
Mr. Buchanan: "Did it do any damage yet?"
Chloe: "No. The Cisco System is self-defending."
Video monitor: "Security Intrusion Prevented."
Viewer: [Sigh.]

Those aren't lines from a new commercial for Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) -- at least not exactly. They're taken directly from last week's episode of Fox's (NYSE:FOX) hit thrill-o-drama 24 (plus commentary from a viewer thereof). They're also the most in-your-face example of product placement yet seen on the show, now in its fourth season.

Yet last week's intrusion by Cisco's marketing department into federal agent Jack Bauer's plotlines is the logical result of the TiVo-fying (NASDAQ:TIVO) of the nation's airwaves. More and more viewers are choosing to fast-forward through the paid-for commercials that finance our TV viewing, whether on actual TiVos or DVR clones from Motley Fool Stock AdvisorScientific Atlanta (NYSE:SFA) or Motorola (NYSE:MOT). For each additional viewer who "opts out" of the old marketing paradigm, sellers' need to find new ways to entice dollars from our wallets becomes more acute, and the means they employ to grab eyeballs more desperate.

Sometimes the product placements will make sense. Sort of. For example, Monday's episode of 24 featured a mention of IP telephones and a brief flash of Cisco's logo, followed by a commercial touting Cisco's expertise in IP telephony. Past seasons have featured sponsorship by Ford (NYSE:F) in the form of pre- and post-episode extended-length commercials and close-up shots of that company's trademark blue oval during car chases. Those worked pretty well, since government agents usually do tool around in large, tinted-glass American-model SUVs in real life.

But Cisco's "heh, we're self-defending" placement offers a prime example of the kind of marketing insinuation that doesn't work, in my opinion. It's the kind of "kink" that we can hope advertisers will work out as they transition to a new advertising model eschewing actual, bathroom-break-inducing commercial blocks in favor of seamlessly integrating products into storylines. Tune in next season on 24, as President Palmer defuses Season 4's Chinese diplomatic time bomb with the helpful suggestion:

President Palmer: "You know, President Hu, if your consular guards were armed with less-lethal weapons manufactured by Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Taser (NASDAQ:TASR), they wouldn't have accidentally shot and killed your consul."

President Hu: "Duh! Why didn't I think of that? Thank you, President Palmer, and thank you, Taser, for saving lives and preserving world peace."

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Taser and Motorola. The Fool has a disclosure policy.