Ofcom raps ITV for prominence of Ford during American Idol

ITV has been critised by the media regulator for giving car marque Ford “undue prominence” in its broadcast of American Idol, but it escaped censure for product placement because the series was acquired from the US, where Ford is sponsor.

Ofcom says that in the final ten rounds of the show’s seventh series, which aired on ITV2 between March and May, contestants performed to a studio audience with music videos featuring Ford cars.

Each week a different music video, featuring either the Ford brand or Ford vehicles was broadcast, including prolonged or close-up shots of Ford vehicles.On occasions model names were clearly visible. The cars also tended to be a key component of the video, such as during one show with a matador theme showing a Ford Mustang car playing the part of a bull (pictured).

ITV argued that it had edited the videos, which were included purely on their editorial merits.

However, Ofcom notes: “We considered that the involvement of the contestants in the videos was insufficient editorial justification for these very prominent visual references to Ford.”

But it has ruled that the broadcaster do not breach of rule 10.5 of the Broadcasting Code, which governs product placement, because it did not directly benefit from the inclusion of the music videos in the UK broadcaster. However, it says the references to Ford were unduly prominent, and therefore in breach of rule 10.4.

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