Monday, March 15, 2010

i can't believe it's not... a real tv show

Product placement - a company paying to have its product included in a TV show - has been illegal on TV in the UK. But not for much longer. This comes despite the government saying a year ago that it would be a bad idea.

The government said plainly that the morality of the idea is still the same, it's just that as the recession sets in (you know, the same recession they keep telling us is over), the first thing to suffer is advertising revenue. So product placement becomes acceptable because it will throw £30m into ailing profits.

Of course, they phrased it a little differently.

Adherence to our current position in which UK TV programme-making cannot benefit at all from the income potentially to be generated by product placement would lead to continuing damage to its finances at a time when this crucial part of our creative industries needs all the support we can give it.

There will be certain product placement free zones. As children are less able to differentiate between fact and sales pitch, product placement will be prohibited in children's programmes. So as long as children never watch any other programmes everything will be fine.

News programmes and the entire BBC will be safe. Additionally, the government plans to prohibit alcohol and foods high in fat, sugar and salt. For now.

Of course, we've long had product placement on our TV in imported shows, and in a world of increasingly globalised brands it will have had an effect on us.

Additionally, it's existed in movies for a long time. One of the many great things about the Spice Girls movie Spiceworld - genuinely a work of cultural significance and real wit, only dismissed by those who haven't seen it - was the way they exaggerated their product placement and showed how it had already become familiar to us without realising.

So the new laws don't introduce it to us. But they do take a ferociously destructive social force and increase its power and range.

As Bill Hicks said, advertising and marketing is the most evil concept ever.

1 comment:

Brenda Sharp said...

Part of the deal that modernises the Royal Mail is likely to see a huge increase in the amount of junk mail that postmen deliver.

Ain't capitalism marvellous? You get a world of choice, except the choice to opt out of the constant bombardment by advertising.