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Since the early days of the Big Bang Theory, Penny's character (and later Bernadette for a time) has worked at The Cheesecake Factory. Clearly, this chain of restaurants has some sort of advertising agreement with the show.

However, their "Cheesecake Factory" looks nothing like the interior of any of their restaurants that I have been in, and reflects a generic color scheme and decor.

So, has The Cheesecake Factory just not put up enough sponsorship over the years to get full coverage, or is there some sort of legislation that prevents the producers from showing the inside of an actual restaurant? Or is it just practical concerns that if the sponsorship is dropped, there wouldn't be a need to redesign the sets?

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Wikipedia says that: According to the company, it "does not have any sort of arrangements with the show. The Cheesecake Factory is really pleased to be featured in such a funny and wildly popular show". Link to the current version of the Wikipedia article - in the case it is changed in the future. –  Martin May 20 '13 at 6:55
    
@Martin That just may be the answer. I had scoured the BBT wiki article for info, but perhaps should have gone to the Cheesecake Factory one. –  jonsca May 20 '13 at 7:33
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(though any info on perks exchanged would be interesting information -- I doubt anyone makes a mention like that for no reason at all) –  jonsca May 20 '13 at 7:34
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I guess everybody forgot the The Cheesecake Factory does not pay any sort of sponsorship or ever will. They have always been a proud company that doesn't pay for advertisements of any sort, only by word of mouth do they get any sort of recognition. –  user5440 Jul 16 '13 at 18:21
    
Maybe they do something else instead of paying, like provide meals for the cast and crew during filming? It's like how Apple says they never pay for product placement, even though you see Apple products everywhere in TV and movies. They must provide something non-monetary in exchange for the product placement. –  pacoverflow Jul 8 at 20:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Per OP's suggestion I am expanding my comment to an answer. (Of course, it will be nice if someone is able to find some additional information and sources.)

The following is mentioned in Wikipedia article on The Cheesecake Factory:

A fictional version of The Cheesecake Factory is used as a setting in the U.S. sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The show's portrayal of the restaurant, however, is not visually accurate to the real Cheesecake Factory. According to the company, it "does not have any sort of arrangements with the show. The Cheesecake Factory is really pleased to be featured in such a funny and wildly popular show".

Here is a link to the current revision of the Wikipedia article - in the case this information is changed by editing of the article.

Wikipedia gives as a source TV Q&A: ABC News, 'Storage Wars' and 'The Big Bang Theory.' I quote from there:

Q: On “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny works for the Cheesecake Factory, but clearly their version of the Cheesecake Factory is nothing like what it is in real [life] (at least here in Pittsburgh.) At best, I would liken Penny's place of employment to a Denny's. So, my question is, does the show have to pay to use the Cheesecake Factory name? Or better yet, why hasn't the Cheesecake Factory sued the producers for defamation? - Linda, 39, Castle Shannon

Rob: I've had a similar thought and last night I was at dinner with a friend who brought up how much it bugs her that the Cheesecake Factory on "Big Bang" looks like a Denny's without any prompting from me. There’s no mention of “promotional consideration” paid by Cheesecake Factory in the “Big Bang Theory” end credits so Cheesecake is not paying Warner Bros., which produces “BBT.” And why would Warner Bros. pay Cheesecake when “BBT” gives the chain a ton of free publicity every time it mentions the restaurant by name? True, the Cheesecake Factory restaurant set on “BBT” is smaller and not as spacious as the restaurant but if you adhere to the motto “any publicity is good publicity,” then this is great exposure even if it’s not 100 percent authentic in its presentation.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain says, “The Cheesecake Factory does not have any sort of arrangements with the show. The Cheesecake Factory is really pleased to be featured in such a funny & wildly popular show.”

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Say you're a fan of the show, and you've never been to a Cheesecake Factory. You go there expecting a Denny's and you get the real thing. Are you disappointed? It's likely that you think, "Wow, this is way better than the place on TV."

That's good advertising. The best.

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Welcome to the Stack Exchange. Quick note: this doesn't actually answer the question. May I suggest taking the Tour to get a better understanding of how we work here. –  Meat Trademark Mar 18 at 2:55
    
@MeatTrademark - I think he believes it does, in summary "it doesn't resemble a real cheesecake factory, so that when you go to one you'll be pleasantly surprised" ... unfortunately I also don't agree thats good advertising. Make something look substandard as advertising? –  iandotkelly Mar 18 at 3:42

Mainly, I would think they chose The Cheesecake Factory because it's an instantly recognizable restaurant that they can't be sued for using. Most other restaurants have names that are registered trademarks, but the words "Cheesecake" and "Factory" as generic english words cannot be copyrighted (even in succession, hence the trademark name is "THE Cheesecake Factory"). For this reason the show is safe from any litigation as long as they refer to the restaurant as simply "Cheesecake Factory", which if you notice is ALWAYS how they say it in the show (i.e.. "THE Cheesecake Factory" is never once stated in the show itself).

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Yeah, that's not the rule. A trademark exists to protect the customer from confusion. If you wanted to make a jet airliner called "The Cheesecake Factory", you could get away with it -- because there is no potential for confusion. You could not call a restaurant "A Cheesecake Factory" or "The Cheezecake Factory" or anything else that might confuse customers. And, anyone can mention a trademark, so long as they don't imply that the trademark owner somehow endorses the mention. Lots of companies are named "United" or "American" or "Delta" -- but don't name your new airline that! –  Malvolio Jul 10 at 0:34

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