United Kingdom paving the way for product placement


US programmers trying to adapt to a world full of DVRs, and sales departments simply looking for as many revenue streams as possible have been making use of product placement within program content for some time. Now the UK is opening the door for the practice on both television and radio.

According to Media Week, UK television will be allowed to use product placement for the first time ever beginning 2/28/11. Certain products will not be eligible, especially including those that are not legal to advertise period, such as tobacco products. Other banned items include alcohol products, unhealthy food items, gambling services, weapons, or escort services.

They will also be banned on children’s programs or news programs.

Any program that contains a product placement will have to air a logo to be provided by Ofcom (UK’s FCC) for at least three seconds at the beginning and end of the program, and for at least three seconds upon return from a break.

The placements must flow within the content naturally – it will be illegal to write a script in order to accommodate the item being promoted.

On the radio side, commercials have only been allowed when they are actual produced commercials and aired outside the program content. It is now OK to promote a product within the programming, but the product mention must be clearly labeled right then and there as a paid promotion. That rule has just going into effect.

RBR-TVBR observation: Sometimes we get the feeling that some regulators think of advertising as some great evil that should only barely be tolerated, and placed products are seen as even more so because they’re sneaky. (Simon Cowell is drinking a Coke – the horror!). In fact, it can actually be informative, and for sure, it makes it possible for broadcasters to provide highly popular programming to the public free of charge. As long as the advertising is honest, regulators should welcome it.