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Ofcom have released their proposals about product placement on British television, enabling commercial broadcasters the chance to earn extra revenue by getting companies to pay for programmes to refer to their products.
Product placement has been around in films for years – the slow-motion zoom-in on the Apple logo of the laptop; the long, lingering side-on shot of the Ray-Ban logo as Will Smith prepares to save the world just one more time – certain films have such blatant endorsements it’s hard not to laugh.
However, on British television it could be different. The guidelines predictably state that alcohol, tobacco and junk food products will not be allowed and that there are restrictions on what shows can feature product placement – children’s and news shows have been ruled out. Broadcasters will also have to tell consumers if a show contains product placement by flashing up an on-air symbol at its start and end.
As hinted at by Kate Refson of PR firm Cirkle, this may not be the new strategy that some think. If PRs have been working so hard to get their products placed for free in the past, then someone somewhere has obviously found it to be a successful strategy.
But what does this mean for retailers? Journalists in this industry get a lot of news about newly launching TV, online and print billboard campaigns – this will just become another angle of attack for big brands. Soon we may be letting you know that you should ensure you’re filling your shelves with Radox, for example, because there may be a steamy shower scene in a popular drama series; stock up on teabags and bread because a breakfast scene will feature prominently in Corrie on Thursday.
The first iconic television scene involving a key British brand won’t be far round the corner, and every PR in the land will be fighting to make sure their brand is the one. Just make sure you’re paying attention because you need to know what brands are being pushed and where to be able to react to it. One of the keys to retail is keeping on your toes – so react quickly to ensure that those products placed on screen are also placed prominently on your shelves.
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