Embrace brands on TV

Your analysis Product Placement on TV (MW last week) appears to be a lamentable reflection of our peculiarly British “can’t do” attitude.

No one ever said that allowing regulated product placement in UK broadcasting would address the structural and cyclical challenges the industry is currently wrestling with. No one can be certain about the size of the economic opportunity which product placement represents for the UK media sector, just as no one could have been sure about the size of the commercial opportunity represented by the original introduction of programme sponsorship – now worth tens of millions of pounds.

But we can be certain of some things/ controlled product placement will bring realism to UK programming, portraying a world that is recognisable, and enhance the appeal and relevance of programmes. Product placement will allow commercial producers and broadcasters to innovate and deepen their offer to advertisers, and in turn consumers, while maintaining investment in original UK production.

And clearly it is not in the interests of broadcasters or producers to alienate their viewers.

Should controlled product placement be introduced, the Ofcom Broadcasting Code on “undue prominence” would ensure public trust is maintained. In short, it is perfectly possible to protect the editorial integrity of programmes while permitting sensible product placement.

So at a time when investment in UK-made programming is under threat, surely it is sensible to maximise the number of funding mechanisms, including product placement, to help sustain this investment in the creative industries?

We should embrace and welcome the opportunity product placement will bring, not pour cold water on it before it’s begun.

Rupert Howell,
MD brand and commercial,
ITV

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