By now, I’m sure most of us are well aware that product placement is being allowed on UK television and has been since February 28th when Nestlé paid £100,000 to have it’s Dolce Gusto coffee brand aired on ITV1’s ‘This Morning’ . Other brands are also close to signing deals with major broadcasters  but will this have a positive effect for both consumers and the brands themselves? A recent study from YouGov suggests that “less than one third (32%) of respondeents say they were even aware that UK product placement laws were changing” with 36% saying “they [didn’t] know what product placement [was]” . The following advertisement was created by ITV creative and was used to heighten audiences’ awareness of the change although it would appear from the aforementioned findings that perhaps not enough was done to raise awareness fully:
Below is an infographic outlining the key elements of this latest legislative implementation although a more detailed list can be found on Ofcom’s website here:
As the above infographic notes, there is very little UK based research into the resonance product placement has with audiences in this country. The inclusion of product placement in British programming will need to be monitored closely to ensure that it is having a positive impact on brands that are financing it.
There have been concerns over a “public backlash” towards product placement with a recent research project from Vision Critical neither completely confirming or denying these fears . The survey, which looked at 2,000 viewers found:
- 61% of people were unaware that product placement will now be allowed.
- 54% were “comfortable” with product placement.
- 32% were “uncomfortable” with product placement.
- 38% thought TV quality would reduce.
- 31% thought TV quality would improve.
- Older viewers were less comfortable with product placement than younger viewers.
But should we really be that worried? Product Placement has been used in movies for years as you can see from the video below:
In my opinion, as long as it is done in a way which is tasteful and does not distract from the story (i.e. The way Michael Bay doesn’t use it), then product placement won’t be too jarring for the audience and may begin to be perceived in more aspirational terms. Until a happy medium can be forged between the business and revenues product placement generates and the artistic and creative integrity of a product, be it a film or television, then this topic will always be a grey area for media commentators.
The last word, however, shall be given to the artistic aficionado and dream-weaving director that is David Lynch.
Note: I wrote this article using my Apple MacBook Pro whilst sipping on an Espresso Doppio from Costa Coffee and listening to the debut album from Jessie J through my Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones.