Product Placement Banned in U.K.
June 13, 2008 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Product Placement Banned in U.K. Minister says it 'contaminates programs'.
posted by jeremy b (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome. If TV isn't profitable without product placement then they can stop making it like every other unprofitable product but I doubt it will come to that.
posted by GuyZero at 10:29 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's very cool. The issue of course is that PP money (over here anyway) pays for large portions of a program's budget.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:30 AM on June 13, 2008


Very economically smart move on the U.K. government's part. They understand that in order to keep making the entertainment dollars by selling English-language broadcasting to the United States, they have to preserve their image as a "premium product".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2008


Minister says it 'contaminates programs'.

This is like telling sewer workers not to fart.
posted by rocket88 at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


I have no Toyota complaints about Goodyear placement. It was responsible for half my Valvoline income last year.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:38 AM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fucking awesome. Product placement is utter bullshit. Maybe they'll snuff out embedded ads in video games next? I really don't wanna hear about AXE bodyspray while playing Splinter Cell.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:40 AM on June 13, 2008


This is like telling sewer workers not to fart.

I was coming in here to say the same thing. Granted, BBC programs (at least the ones that make it to the US) are much better than US programs. But still, if someone asked me what most needed to exit TV programs, my answer would be "the extreme stupidity".
posted by DU at 10:40 AM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Typically in British politics, this news isn't that product placement has been banned but instead that the minister was announcing a start of the consultation process about what should be permitted. Not to prejudice the outsome of the consultation in any way, he said: "But here and now I do want to signal that I think there are some lines that we should not cross - one of which is that you can buy the space between the programmes on commercial channels, but not the space within them". He's not wrong, but it's a stupid way to do things.
posted by patricio at 10:41 AM on June 13, 2008


Is it product placement when the BBC runs a whole series on casting the lead of a for-profit West End musical?
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on June 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


"I really don't wanna hear about AXE bodyspray while playing Splinter Cell."

Why? Seriously. You're pretending to shoot people in the face. How is this experience ruined by the presence of an ad that you routinely and easily ignore? Or, better yet, how is this worse than the fake ad that would be there if not for product placement? I'm asking.
posted by Ragma at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2008


Granted, BBC programs (at least the ones that make it to the US) are much better than US programs.

You just think that b/c of the fancy accents.

Is it product placement when the BBC runs a whole series on casting the lead of a for-profit West End musical?

Wait, did the US steal that from you, or vice versa? (And is yours a better musical than Legally Blond: The Musical?)
posted by inigo2 at 10:56 AM on June 13, 2008


The first one was in the UK called "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?", but after that, it gets complicated.
posted by smackfu at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2008


I think this is great, especially if it leads to all the products in TV shows looking like the products in Repo Man.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:06 AM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


You just think that b/c of the fancy accents.

No, but I probably do think it because I'm comparing Walking with Dinosaurs to Two and a Half Men.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on June 13, 2008


I don't have a problem with someone in a movie/tv show/video game going into a bar and ordering a Bud (it actually kind of takes me out of the story when a character asks for "a beer"; in real life the bartender would ask you which brand you wanted), but when you've got stuff like entire episodes of Friends based around a trip to and purchase at Pottery Barn (this really happened, and I was appalled when I learned that PB was a real store; this was back in the mid-'90s)...well, I don't think banning it outright is the right move, but I'll vote with my eyeballs and not watch anything like that.

However, I'll make exceptions for blatant product placement in really awful movies, on the grounds that it often leads to top-notch unintentional humour (i.e. the scene in Leonard Part VI where there's a long shot of Bill Cosby and the actress playing his daughter having a talk while sitting on a couch; the camera is behind the couch, Cos has his arm draped over the edge of the couch, and in his hand is a bottle of Coke. The Coke bottle is in focus, while Cos and his daughter are not).
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2008


Typically in British politics, this news isn't that product placement has been banned but instead that the minister was announcing a start of the consultation process about what should be permitted.

To be fair, it's more that it's typical of over-reporting of non-stories.
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2008


Now that they've made this important policy decision maybe they can work on those pesky surveillance cameras.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:28 AM on June 13, 2008


AFAIK, it's always been banned it the UK.
posted by popcassady at 11:28 AM on June 13, 2008


Advertising is a disgusting business, but also one of necessity. If I had to pay for one of those [insane] TV licenses, I'd expect my crap to appear commercial-free, but then again, cable TV has long forgotten about broadcasting without bombarding me every five minutes with Oxy-clean and Franklin Mint nonsense.

One thing that I'd like to point out is that albeit cheesy, the appearance of our everyday products on TV, and in movies, reflects part of who we are as a society at any given time in history. Just watch an old show sometime.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:33 AM on June 13, 2008


However, I'll make exceptions for blatant product placement in really awful movies, on the grounds that it often leads to top-notch unintentional humour

Very rarely people have managed to twist product placement into something artistically good, but this seems to end up reflecting poorly on the product. Arrested Development did a Burger King placement that parodied product placement and pointed out how Burger King was paying them to shill, and Blade Runner cast various corporations as part of the dystopia.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:37 AM on June 13, 2008


You're pretending to shoot people in the face. How is this experience ruined by the presence of an ad that you routinely and easily ignore? Or, better yet, how is this worse than the fake ad that would be there if not for product placement? I'm asking.

Really?
I paid for the game. I didn't pay to be hustled. I paid to pretend to shoot fictional people in the face in an attempt to sublimate my desire to shoot advertisers in the face. If they want to invade even that brief moment of escape from the world they have created, what's the point? Why not just go and shoot advertisers in the face instead?
posted by trondant at 11:53 AM on June 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


I was just talking to a co-worker of mine about this. "Joe," I said, "Do you not agree that the placement of commercial products in such culturally essential British television programmes as '8 Out of 10 Cats', which airs on Channel 4 Fridays at 10 PM, imperils the esteem with which the international television-programme-watching community regards such outstanding exports as BBCOne's 'EastEnders' or 'The Apprentice'?"

Joe thought about this for a minute, sipping meditatively from his Coca Cola Cherry Zero with Asapartame. "You may be right," he said. "Much as purchasers of Windows Vista Capable HP Compaqs with Intel Core 2 Duo Inside assume that they're buying a computer, or consumers who pay five dollars plus applicable tax for a Subway Restaurants Foot Long Chicken & Bacon Ranch Classic Sub believe that they're buying a sandwich, viewers of such innovative television shows as BBC Two's 'Beyond Boundaries: Across the Andes' or BBC Four's 'FOUR Goes to the Dogs' reasonably think that they're watching a high-quality hour of television, not clandestine advertisements for products such as the Toyota Tundra, 2008 Motor Trend Truck of the Year."

"You know I don't shop much, Joe. Can you relate your analysis in terms that I can more easily understand?"

"You know that web site you're always on? What if someone who was making an argument about the aesthetic merits of an instantly-streaming high-resolution Google-YouTube parody of a Japanese animation such as Toei Doga's popular and entertaining 'Dragon Ball Z' casually mentioned that they just happened, right at that moment, to be eating a tasty and nutritious Chicken Burrito Bowl with Naturally Raised Chicken from Chipotle?"

"I see what you're saying, Joe."

"I'm glad. Let's go out and have a cigarette."

"Great idea, Joe." Whatever else you can say about Joe, he is, as his name suggests, Cool.
posted by dyoneo at 11:56 AM on June 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


Interestingly British shows will often show full shots of product labels that get blurred when they appear on BBC America.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on June 13, 2008


If they extended this to movies, you couldn't show a single Spielberg after Jaws.
posted by oneironaut at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2008


Without product placement, how will I know what I'm supposed to be?
posted by Dizzy at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2008


Granted, BBC programs (at least the ones that make it to the US) are much better than US programs.

A couple of decades ago, I came across an article on UK vs. US television that featured the following pithy observation from a UK television exec: "Our best is better than your best, and our worst is worse than your worst."
posted by thomas j wise at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2008


the following pithy observation from a UK television exec: "Our best is better than your best, and our worst is worse than your worst."

It's about time someone cops to the tragedy of Are You Being Served?
posted by kittyprecious at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember when TV shows and movies always had to have some non-existent brand when they did something.

People drinking "Cola" and "Pop" or using "Detergent" inevitably kicked me out of suspended-disbelief mode.

I think that blatant hawking of goods on shows is stupid and detracts from the experience, but shows/movies like that will inevitably get what they deserve -- oblivion.

But I fail to see anything wrong with displaying on TV or in a movie "real" people using "real" products. I'm not going to order a Turkey Sandwich and a Cola. I'm going to ask for a Turkey sandwich and a Coke.
posted by chimaera at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2008


It's about time someone cops to the tragedy of Are You Being Served?

Americans love that shit. And Benny Hill. And Mr. Bean. And Torchwood.
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2008


You can't beat this production value.
posted by RollingGreens at 1:22 PM on June 13, 2008


AFAIK, it's always been banned it the UK.

From the FPP article:
"The U.K. media minister has attacked product placement in TV shows and said he will not allow the practice on British broadcasters even though it has been approved by the European Union....Last week, ITV topper Rupert Howell, in a speech about the new economics of TV, eagerly anticipated a time when U.K. television would be allowed to follow the U.S. example and use product placement."
So, yeah, it appears so.
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2008


Really?

I'm against anything that will make me have to sit through more commercials.
posted by Alison at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2008


I hate the idea as much as everyone else, but I must admit the 30 rock episode on product placement was pure genius.
posted by darkripper at 2:04 PM on June 13, 2008


Or, better yet, how is this worse than the fake ad that would be there if not for product placement?

Depending on the game, fake ads can be very clever. See GTA4 for an absurd number of examples of this. (Burger Shot, Cluck n' Bell, Auto Erotica car sales, etc.)

I tend to favor BBC documentaries over American produced ones. They tend to have better cinematography (and they love using macro lenses with incredibly short depth of field, which just looks cool).

Overall, I don't actually hate product placement when it's done noninvasively; a Coke machine in the background is fine, a character chattering about how good Coke tastes... not so much. Still, I have to respect the decision to try and hold programming to a higher standard. I look forward to seeing how this works out.
posted by quin at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2008


FWIW it's *paid* product placement that is currently not allowed in the UK. Seems like an important distinction.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on June 13, 2008


People drinking "Cola" and "Pop" or using "Detergent" inevitably kicked me out of suspended-disbelief mode.

...

But I fail to see anything wrong with displaying on TV or in a movie "real" people using "real" products.


I feel in a vacuum I would have no problem with someone asking for a Bud or a Coors at a bar in a movie or show. Unfortunately, the ubiquitousness of pernicious marketing means that in reality every time I see someone order a Bud in a movie I think of how the producers most likely got paid for that, which ruins my own suspension of disbelief. There is a third way I prefer, which is exemplified by Morleys and Oceanic Airlines.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:00 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since no-one seems to have linked it here is the actual speech:
"If Jim Royle gets out of his chair for a Kit Kat, I want to think, ‘he fancies a Kit Kat’ – not, ‘Kit Kat my arse!"
It is a pretty nothing story and it is interesting for someone who has only read Variety's political pieces until now to see how pitifully tabloid the reporting is.
posted by ninebelow at 3:50 PM on June 13, 2008


This will work out well for Top Gear.

Also, TV needs to be trusted? WTF, UK?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:24 PM on June 13, 2008


Heh. BBC America Top Gear is shorter than British Top gear, partially because they don;t want to get sued for slagging off someones product.
posted by Artw at 8:48 PM on June 13, 2008


People drinking "Cola" and "Pop" or using "Detergent" inevitably kicked me out of suspended-disbelief mode.

Back in the early 70s, it was one of the standout features of "All in the Family" that they used real products on the set. When Archie was having breakfast, there'd be a box of actual Corn Flakes on the table, not some generic stand-in. It was another way Norman Lear and his team were flashing signs at us to say--this isn't Jeannie winking Major Nelson out of another madcap predicament, we're going to talk about the Real World now. In the context of those days, it was kind of exciting, even for a kid like me.
posted by gimonca at 7:01 AM on June 14, 2008


Another tangent: when Seinfeld did the Junior Mint episode, was that a paid placement? It seems a little off-center to have your product accidentally dropped into a body during surgery.
posted by gimonca at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2008


...when Seinfeld did the Junior Mint episode, was that a paid placement?
"Warner-Lambert Co.'s Junior Mints brand was just one beneficiary of the Seinfeld product-placement bonanza. But unlike most placements, which try to paint a product in the most positive light, Junior Mints willingly became comic fodder. 'Some companies didn't want to see their candy falling into the cavity of a patient: They overanalyzed it and lost the humor in it,' recalls Patricia Ganguzza, owner of AIM Promotions, the New York City-based agency that placed the candies on TV. 'Now everybody knows that episode as the "Junior Mints" episode.'"*
Quiet on the set. Annnnnd, action: the scene [video | 1:12].
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2008


I love the good old socialist BBC's brave attempts to keep evil capitalism away from kids by never mentioning product names on Blue Peter when I was growing up... and after a bit of research see it's still being kept on. From Wikipedia
The programme maintains its long-standing practice of avoiding using commercial names on air. Most famously, this policy led to the invention of the phrase "sticky-backed plastic" back in the 1970s for the products marketed under the trade names Fablon and Coverlon. Sellotape was often referred to by the invented term "Sticky tape", barring one incident in which John Noakes used the trade name and remarked as an aside 'I'll get shot for that'. Similarly, many makes called for the use of a Velcro type material, which was referred to as "self sticking material". In today's climate (2007) of negativity surrounding product placement, the programme's policy of disguising any brand names visible on "make necessities" like glue sticks or cereal boxes has never been so important. An extreme example of avoiding criticism occurred in February 2005, when the show ran a feature on how Nestlé Smarties are made, without once mentioning the name of the product.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:52 AM on June 15, 2008


Companies don't always want their names dropped on the air. It's very strange, but many companies that make famous, iconic products are so wary of their precious trademark becoming "genericised" that they will create legal trouble for a media organisation that uses its name in place of a general term.

"Genericisation" is when a trademark becomes the generic name for a line of projects, and companies lose control over the ways in which the name can be used. So, hoover is a genericised name for a vacuum cleaner. And I used a lower-case h! And I'd do it again! And there's no power in the world that can stop me! Hahahahahaha!

This is something I learned in journalism training, and something that regularly comes up in my work. And you'd be surprised at the names that turn out to be trademarks. Don't say jacuzzi, say spa bath. Don't say Vespa, say scooter. Don't say Sellotape, say sticky tape. Don't say Portacabin or Portakabin, say site hut. Don't say Frisbee, say flying disc. Don't say Jeep. And so on.

A publication I worked on once got in trouble for this, for saying Formica, when we should have said laminate surface.

So, it's not just socialistic mind-control innoculating kids against capitalist running dogs: often it's an attempt by the running dogs to protect their brands.
posted by WPW at 11:23 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


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