Product Placement on TV

The BBC Magazine brings up an issue that has been bobbing around quite a bit recently…

Advertising has creeped into every part of our life. We don’t even blink anymore when a movie’s plot is centered around a commercial product. (Think Cast Away and FedEx?) But now, this has become a regular occurence on TV in the US, through blatant placements like Coca Cola drinks in American Idol, and the taboo in Britain seems to be melting away.

The new series of 24 is sponsored heavily by Ford. There was discussion as to whether this would affect the British screening of the show . The key reasoning to let it slide was that it did not affect the plot.

The argument to allow more and more flexibility in product placement now goes beyond the original attempt at “creating realism” in tv shows. (Picture a show where every pub is full of bottles of beer says “BEER” and kitchens full of boxes saying “CEREAL”. You’re laughing? That’s how it used to be!)

The argument is this: TV advertisers believe the advent of personal video recorders (PVRs) such as Sky+, which are also increasingly available on other platforms like Freeview, spell doom for their trade because they make fast-forwarding through commercial breaks a doddle.

The power money can have over the plot of a story or the integrity of a show mixing entertainment and facts is going to prove dangerous. We’ve already seen how easily American TV decisions can be swayed by cold hard cash. Now, it’ll be a test of whether TV producers in Britain choose morals and genuine story lines over easy money through Corrie’s big bad guy popping by McDoodoo’s for a yummy lunch. (Hey gimme a break, I don’t watch soaps and don’t know what the characters are called!)

Check out Brand Channel to find out which brands are shown in which recent movies. Did you actually spot that many when you watched the movie? Probably not, yet the placement was working its magic on you!

3 thoughts on “Product Placement on TV

  1. Alex

    The film “Thunderbirds” that came out last summer was also sponsored by Ford. It was laughable really, Lady Penelope’s car was a Ford in the film, and even the pseudo news bulletin scene had a little “Ford” logo displayed in the bottom left of the screen.

    Or it was laughable until I realised they wrecked my entire stock of childhood memories for the original “Thunderbird” series.

  2. Andy

    After a while it will become as effective as nothing, as we will see tham as everyday items. I see fords everyday but don’t buy them, I see cocacola everyday, but only buy it from time to time, Pepsi, I don’t buy at all..

    Sheesh Product placement in the comments

  3. Expat

    It all reminds me a great deal of “The Truman Show” where the entire 24 hour reality show was funded through product placement.

    The link to Brand Channel was an interesting find. Thanks for that!

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