The proposal from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has drawn sharp criticism from bodies such as the British Medical Council. It says: “The BMA is deeply concerned about the decision to allow any form of product placement in relation to alcohol, gambling and foods high in fat, sugar or salt as this will reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health.
“Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a sub-conscious level.”
Howell says: “If permitted, product placement would be prohibited in programmes made specifically for children, and ITV would fully support the extension of existing advertising regulations, to prevent the placement of these products in prime-time programmes of particular appeal to children.”
Advertiser body ISBA says it opposes paid-for product placement as it believes it will lead to higher costs for advertisers and more complaints from viewers.
However, ISBA supports the current system of unpaid prop placement.
ISBA media and advertising director Bob Wootton says: “Advertisers paying more to place their products might then naturally expect to see them placed more prominently, and it is this greater visibility that may well increase complaints from viewers.”
The consultation period regarding the proposals ends on 8 January.