Don’t forget good old product placement

I read with interest David Benady’s article on the challenging future TV advertisers are going to face.

One of the areas he covered was product placement, which happens to be a medium that I have devoted 15 years of my life to championing, developing and generally pushing up the media agenda with some success.

Mr Benady’s knowledge of the placement market seems to have been informed from a five minute cruise around the Web, resulting in an article that was misleading. Allow me to give a more accurate picture of where we are right now. Under Rule 10.5 of the Ofcom Broadcast Code product placement is defined as follows:

Product placement is the inclusion of, or a reference to, a product or service within a programme in return for payment or other valuable consideration to the programme maker or broadcaster (or any representative or associate of either).

However, the code continues, and this is the crucial part that Mr Benady missed out:

For the purposes of this rule, the following are not considered to be product placement:

References to products or services acquired at no, or less than full, cost, where their inclusion within the programme is justified editorially.

And therefore, semantics apart, free supply of branded products is quite clearly a legitimate and viable channel through which marketers can generate high levels of brand awareness, across mass TV audiences, while at the same time receive an outstanding return on investment.

So much so, the product placement market is thriving and brands such as Volkswagen, Cisco Systems and Sony PlayStation, which are all represented by 1st Place, are reaping the rewards.

The BBC has very similar rules. My company has been very working very closely and successfully with TV productions, both BBC and commercial broadcasters, for more years than I care to remember. The fact we have advised the BBC at the highest level is an indication of our close working relationship.

We carefully select placements for our clients’ brands, ensuring brand fit is optimised, across a variety of popular and high rating programmes. The key is the product is provided free of charge, it has to be relevant to the script and the whole process is totally transparent.

That’s the real picture and will continue to be so, at least until the European Parliament pulls its finger out and makes a decision.

The smart money then is on a regulated but vibrant paid placement market emerging overnight, but as in the US the bulk of placements will still be free of charge.

If Mr Benady wants some more accurate Web-based information he could do worse than go to our website

Steve Read

Managing director

1st Place



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