Sunday, September 13, 2009

Product placement for TV to be approved

From BBC News:
Product placement is to be allowed on British TV shows, in a move due to be announced next week.

Independent broadcasters will be allowed to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows.

The change is intended to bring in extra funds for commercial broadcasters. Experts believe it could raise up to £100m a year.

There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is expected to announce a three-month consultation on the changes in a speech to the Royal Television Society next week.
The previous Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, had rejected calls for product placement.

Update: The lifting of the ban has not yet been confirmed, reports The Telegraph.
Mr Bradshaw announced a three-month consultation period over proposals to lift a ban on allowing broadcasters to take payments for displaying branded products during shows – but restrictions are expected to remain in force for children's television and BBC programmes.

He told the Royal Television Society Convention: "We'll consult on this shortly and would hope to have any change in place in the New Year."


  1. Patric M. Verrone
    President, Writers Guild of America, West
    In the United States, product placement has been a long-standing practice. Certain products were featured on screen in film and television programs, often in exchange for free use of the product. This practice helped offset production costs, but did not generate significant revenue. While many in the creative community were not crazy about the idea of lingering shots on logos and brands, it was tolerated because it did not pose much of a threat to creative integrity.
    Unfortunately, the lack of government regulation limiting product placement in the United States has led to the creation of a new and far more insidious practice called product integration, which shoehorns products or brands into the plot and dialogue of a program for payment or other consideration. Professional television writers are now forced to disguise commercials as story lines, effectively eliminating the line between advertising and editorial content. And viewers, who expect entertainment from television series are now being sold to without their knowledge, in opaque and subliminal ways.
    When writers are told we must incorporate a commercial product into the story line we cease to be creators and run the risk of alienating an audience that expects compelling television, not commercials. Consumers are required to watch commercial messages that are no longer identified as such. In the third quarter of 2008, TNS Media Intelligence found that brand appearances in the form of product placement and integration averaged 9 minutes per hour for primetime network television, with unscripted programs featuring brands an average of 10 minutes and 12 seconds per hour. It is important to note that the figures for brand appearances listed above are in addition to approximately 14 minutes of regular commercial breaks that occur during programming. Since brand appearances constitute advertising, combining commercial time and brand appearances produces alarming numbers: one hour of network primetime television now averages 23 minutes of advertising.

  2. It should also be noted that while the television networks tout the additional advertising revenue, PQ Media has found that the total market for product placement and integration in the US represents only 3.3% of the advertising spot revenue on television. Clearly, allowing product placement is not the panacea that the industry would attempt to have you believe. And when advertisers do pay for product integration, they aren’t satisfied with a few shots of the product on screen. Instead, advertisers like Coca-Cola and Ford, who pay for integration into American Idol expect prominence on the screen and interactions with their products. Each week, contestants on the show film commercials disguised as music videos with Ford cars. In 2008, ITV was censured by Ofcom for the undue prominence this program gave the products, when aired in the UK.

    In the United States, product integration has not been a positive for either creators or consumers. What began with the use of real commercial products as props has devolved into a hijacking of programming by commercial interests. As such, we have asked the Federal Communications Commission to require real-time disclosure of product integration. This will ensure that viewers can distinguish the creative elements of programming from the commercials that creators must now insert into content.

    The American experience need not be emulated by the United Kingdom or the rest of the world. The continued prohibition of product placement in the UK will ensure the protection of the creative community and television viewers. U.S. product shown in the UK should be held to the same high standards. While advertising and programming have been undeniably linked since the dawn of television, product integration has crossed a line and, in the U.S., we are having a very hard time pushing it back.

    Examples of product integration on American television can be found here:

  3. Anonymous8:48 am

    Edel Brosnan writes -

    Given a choice between product placement and even further cuts in drama budgets, I'd choose product placement every time. I don't see this as a retrograde step, as long as it's policed properly.

    And brands are a part of the way we live now - it can be really frustrating *not* to be allowed specify that a character drives a Lexus/ Prius/ beaten-up Hillman Hunter because of fear of the b-word.


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