Well the day has finally dawned when product placement becomes OK on British TV. So many years spent being drilled on the horrors of product placement – the workshops, the endless repetition of the Ofcom rules, the scare stories of the sky-high fines for falling foul of the boundaries in daytime TV. It has been officially allowed since February 2011 but only now that Coronation Street is to take a step into the new brave new world of product placement by replacing an unbranded cashpoint machine in Dev’s corner shop with a Nationwide one.
Of course daytime TV got there first with Nescafe featuring its Dolce Gusto coffee machine on ‘This Morning’. Those prime time shows like to see daytime as the poor cousin but where does everyone try out the new stuff, eh? And who made a fortune for ITV with premium rate telephone numbers long before X-Factor and I’m a Celebrity voting, eh? Yes ‘This Morning’. Anyway, that’s another subject….
Producers – do not get too excited. Researchers, put down that phone to your favourite brand of electronics. You cannot simply get products sent in and place them strategically around the studio. This is a job for the marketing department along with senior TV executives. The TV bods are treading carefully with product placement despite the new rules. All that drilling and scary stories has scarred and scared us all!
Granada TV was hit with a £500,000 fine in 1994 when This Morning, then presented by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, gave a free plug to Safeway supermarkets and She magazine. The Independent Television Commission, the precursor to Ofcom, said the programme had repeatedly broken the rules and had received warnings about seven previous lapses including plugs for Victor Kiam’s Lady Remington range of jewellery, Heinz and Calvin Klein products.
If you don’t already understand the rules about Product Placement then you should. It is very easy to fall foul of this particular Ofcom regulation.
Basically it’s all about editorial integrity. The producers must retain control of the editorial content of their shows at all times and that content must be fair and unbiased and it must NOT contain anything that could be construed as an advertisement in any way. There has to be a strong editorial purpose to any commercial products shown on screen – such as those used in consumer features. If you are talking about beauty creams you must incude a range of different manufacturers. If a holiday show talks about one particular travel company they must refer to other similar companies that supply a similar holiday.
It is always a good idea to learn the rules if you are working in TV or wanting to place a commercial product on the screen.
Here is a consumers’ guide to Product Placement: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2011/02/product-placement-on-tv
.. and Ofcom’s official ruling: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code/commercial-references-television
Read ’em and learn!
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