Should product placement be banned from TV shows?

Here’s Don Foster’s take on the subject:

In the current financial climate, we have to look at all revenue options including product placement.

The previous Secretary of State, Andy Burnham, was wrong to have ruled out the option of product placement.

With Google now having a larger advertising revenue than ITV, the commercial television companies need to fight back and it’s welcome that the new Secretary of State is using common sense and allowing product placement to be part of their armoury.

Given how controversial product placement was in its early days in US TV and in films, I’m struck how muted the public responses have been to the latest discussion of the issue. Perhaps people have got so used to seeing product placement in the cinema and on DVD that they don’t really mind? What’s your view?

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  • David Heigham 13th Sep '09 - 3:47pm

    ‘Product placement’ always gives me the giggles. Where it is banned, the production and camera staff can always arrange that it happens “by accident”, presumably for a suitable reward. Where it is permitted, it is evident that these same camera and production people have and use many opportunities to minimise or fuzz the product image, and that these “accidents” will also tend to happen if those staff are unhappy.

    That said, are there opportunities to get ordinary, everyday, ‘Vote LibDem’ posters into the picture?

  • I agree with your last point there Mark. for many members of my generation, advertising has become such an irrelevant and omnipresent part of life, that we’ll accept it as long as it is not intrusive. It spoils films like Bond and the like to see the latest “gadget” actually just being a phone or a car that you can buy but doesn’t detract from the overall narrative.

  • Martin Land 13th Sep '09 - 4:53pm

    I was involved as a Marketing Manager in the placing our product – Cameras – in the first Christopher Reeve Superman Movie. Ours were placed in the hands of the Daily Planet’s photographer, but the filmed featured some really crass, obvious, product placements with no relevance to the story.
    Considering what we paid, which was tiny in proportion to the revenues generated by the film, I have always felt that it was difficult to understand the need for the quite small sums generated as opposed to the effect upon the film.
    But it doesn’t stop. There was some very obvious product placement in the I, Robot film, which seemed very out of place.
    However, I find it difficult to be critical of ITV when almost every BBC programme seems to have been made to promote a book, a DVD, etc…

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Sep '09 - 4:55pm

    Given the sheer amount of money available for bribes, I don’t see how we could ever ban it again, and I’m surprised that it’s been maintained this long. Obviously product placement makes the show worse, and the large amounts of money involved are to offset the lost revenues from the lost viewers. Everybody wins except the consumer, who is also the only one that doesn’t get a say in the matter.

  • Can’t see what the problem with it is to be honest (unless there is so much concentration on it that it ruins films). I remember Minority Report being very big on product placement but it didn’t strike me as detracting from the film.

  • And to think how Alan Partridge’s career was ended after a couple of badly judged mentions of the Rover Vitesse 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Sep '09 - 11:09am

    Advertisments are honest, people can see what they are and what they are meant to do. Product placement is not. The idea that something is put forward as entertainment but secretly has been twisted to sell a product seems appalling to me. I suggest we allow it, but request that whenever it happens a message is put on the screen saying it is happening and saying how much was paid for it to happen.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Sep '09 - 9:18pm

    Well, since no-one seems to be too bothered about this, perhaps we should raise funds for our party this way. Open up our manifesto for anyone who pays enough to place their favoured policy item there. If what is meant to be just entertainment can secretly be used by rich companies to sell their products, why not party manifestoes?

  • Terry Gilbert 14th Sep '09 - 10:08pm

    So long as its not too intrusive. Though I guess the viewers would ‘vote with their remote’ if it was.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Sep '09 - 12:24pm

    The real problem is surely when it is not too intrusive. The idea that something put forward as entertainment can be subtly manipulated with things added to it not because they improve the entertainment value but because someone with money is prepared to pay for it and believes it will alter people’s minds and make them want to do things they wouldn’t otherwise want to do, is appalling. Well, it is to me. I am very sorrow that no-one else here seems even to see the arguments against product placement, not saying “on balance, it’s ok”, but can’t even see grounds for complaint, can’t even see any problems. To be honest, I am shocked and this has damaged my confidence in this party and its ability to stand up to the powers that dominate our lives, which is what I thought liberalism was about.

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