Saturday, 7 April 2012
A little bit about product placement....
So for one (intellectual property) reason or another it became necessary in the law library this past week to take a crash course in product placement. Here's a little summary of what we learned...
- Product placement is simply where a brand owner will pay to have their product featured in a TV show or film, for example. It's been allowed in the USA for some time but was only made legal in the UK in Feb 2011. Prior to this advertising could only take place in the ad breaks.
- There are quite a few famous instances of product placement in the US - famous because they have been criticised for being a bit OTT. You might already know some of them - the dating website 'Plenty of Fish' features prominently in music videos by both Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, while Virgin Airlines and other products received substantial coverage in several episodes of popular sitcome 'Friends'.
- In the UK, product placement cannot take place in news or children's TV shows, nor can products such as cigarettes, high fat foods or baby milk be used in placement deals. There are other prohibited items too, for exmaple things that cannot be advertised in the UK eg. guns.
- One of the reasons that product placement often attracts such criticism is because there are specific Ofcom guidelines that state that product placement must not be overly prominent; in other words, you shouldn't be able to take one look at a scene and realise that product placement is occurring! This is often one of the reasons why it attracts so much controversy.
- In the UK, if a show features product placement, a logo must be shown at the start of the programme to inform viewers this is going to happen.
The one major thing that stood out to me was that product placement is still very much in it infancy in the UK, whereas in the US it has been going on for years. In the last year there have only been about 20 product placements on UK TV! There has been suggestions that Ofcom guidelines are too restrictive, but there are no plans to change them going forward. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Let's hope that the critics aren't proved correct and UK television becomes chock-a-block with brand promotion!
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