As Tristan O'Carroll reported a couple of days ago in mediaweek, Ben Bradshaw, our culture secretary is expected to reverse the Government’s opposition to product placement later this week at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge.
This news has been heartily welcomed by ITV. Apparently, Bradshaw will ‘outline a timetable for a consultation into plans to allow product placement on TV based on certain rules regarding the frequency of placements.’
Just read that last sentence again. That sounds like something might happen in… oh around May 2035. And God knows, what with an onslaught of dodgy digital channels and its own investment into crap programmes, ITV needs as much help as it can get right now. And that help may well come in the form of an estimated £35m that Ofcom says product placement could generate over the next five years in the UK. Of course, the BBC, it’s been argued, will not be one of the main benefactors, but who cares? They’ve been pulling the wool over licence payers’ eyes for years by hammering us all with their own advertising for this channel, that channel, this season, that online project.
But on the subject of pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes, who the hell do ITV (and our Government for that matter) think they’re trying to kid? Check this statement, released this week from ITV: "If the Government does decide to permit product placement, it will be warmly welcomed by the commercial broadcasting industry and advertisers alike. ITV plc has led the campaign for product placement in the UK, which could be an important new revenue stream - as it already is in Europe. Reforming the UK prohibition would also be a welcome acknowledgement of the pressures currently faced by an industry in transition. New sources of revenue mean better funded content, which can only be good news for viewers."
If you’re going to give the green light on product placement, fair enough – it’s simply another viable channel option in what should be any brand’s integrated marketing mix. But don’t tell us you’re just thinking about it. You’ve been spamming us for ages with product placement, as this clip from last Friday’s Coronation Street shows to Ouchrageous effect.
Ouch rule of marketing, #531: Market to us by all means but do it relevantly, and most importantly, do it honestly.
Footnote: You’ll notice at the top of this I wrote ‘Ben Bradshaw, our culture secretary’ and not, ‘Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary.’ That’s because our MPs are supposed to work for us, not the Government, or themselves for that matter.