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Product Placement about to Pounce! Ever wondered why the Coke logo on the glasses on the table in front of the judges on American idol is blurred? In the UK, unlike the USA, product placement is banned; however, from 28th February 2011 product placement will be allowed in UK TV programmes, but does this mean that they will no longer be blurred out. What is product placement I hear you ask and why is it currently banned? Product placement is defined by Ofcom as ‘the paid-for placement of products, services and trade marks in TV programmes’. The practice was originally banned in the UK as there were concerns that product placement would blur the distinction between advertising and editorial and that standards of broadcasting needed to be maintained. The government was worried that the quality of programmes would deteriorate as placing brands © Copyright 2009 Tutor2u Limited in prominent places in TV shows became the norm. These concerns were pushed aside on 9th February 2010 as the former Labour government announced that product placement is to be permitted on UK television from early in 2011. Until the ban is lifted, the UK and Denmark are the only countries in the EU to not allow product placement (also referred to as stealth marketing and embedded advertising by marketing tutor2u Product Placement about to Pounce! continued professionals). The US is famous for its active use of ‘stealth marketing’, from the promotion of Acuvue contact lenses in Smallville to Yamaha pianos in Desperate Housewives and Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren in Friends, product placement is part of the media culture. British film goers are already exposed to excessive product placement. The ultimate example is the James Bond franchise: Omega watches, Aston Martin cars and Sony Ericsson mobile phones are all featured in the films with Aston Martin reportedly paying $50 million to have their car included in the Quantum of Solace. The new rules will allow for brands to be featured in films, TV series, entertainment shows and sports programmes. However, product placement will not be permitted in children’s programmes and news programmes. Embedded advertising will only appear on commercial channels and not on the BBC. In lifting the ban on product placement, some viewers are concerned that much loved ‘fake brands’ in their favourite soap opera will disappear. Will the new rules mean the end of Newton and Ridley on Coronation Street? Products not to be ‘placed’ under the new rules: • • • • Tobacco Alcohol Gambling Foods or drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar • Medicines and baby milk weapons or escort agencies. Ofcom have stated that the use of brands within programmes must be editorially justified and must not be featured in an unduly prominent way. A logo will also be displayed at the beginning of all programmes that contain product placement to alert viewers. The potential impact on broadcasters and television production companies is very attractive to the industry. In the US product placement accounts for roughly 5% of all advertising revenue or $2.3 billion, that would translate into £150 million in the UK. It is more likely that in the initial period, outlay will be a lot less than this, reaching tens of millions in the first year. This will mean a well needed injection of cash to the commercial television broadcasters who have seen a decline in advertising revenue since the beginning of the recent recession. Production companies will be able to use the new source of income to contribute towards their costs whilst promising to maintain the integrity of their editorials. Whilst viewers are to be subjected to even more advertising strategies implemented by marketing professionals attempting to raise brand awareness and brand loyalty, the new rules haven’t gone far enough yet to prevent the Coke logo on UK showings of American idol from being blurred. It will be interesting to see what the full impact of the changes will be! © Copyright 2009 Tutor2u Limited tutor2u