TV product placement warnings unlikely to last

Product placement specialists have hit out at the suggestion there will be a warning label for programmes on commercial television featuring branded goods.

Ofcom has set out its proposals to accompany the product place­ment legislation passed by the former Labour government in February. These include recommending the use of an on-air symbol at the beginning and end of TV programmes to let viewers know which UK-produced programmes contain product placement.

Steve Read, managing director of product placement specialist 1st Place, says: “The ’warning’ kitemark gives the impression that product placement is something the viewer should be protected from. This is classic British overkill. All parties involved in placing brands in TV shows have no desire to thrust products onto the screen.”

David Fletcher, head of analytics and insight at media agency MEC, adds: “The suggested ’warning’ yellow circle is a little reminiscent of Channel 4’s red triangle of the late Eighties.

“It draws attention to the existence of placed brands and, while it undoubtedly delivers consumer protection, it feels like it should become obsolete sooner rather than later.”

He also suggests that while product placement legislation is good news for broadcasters, it is unlikely to become a cash cow. “Product placement will augment rather than replace advertising. It is unlikely to exceed the same financial scale as TV sponsorship, which at about £150m a year is less than 5% of TV advertising revenue.”

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