Placement of Products

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Speaking of...

Speaking of productinvasion.com, the website was featured in a New York Times article two weeks ago.

The Writer’s Guild of America has been on a crusade against product placement, but so far, has received very little media attention. They are calling for a code of conduct to govern product placement, including a mandate to disclose all the products paying for airtime before the show begins. The writers and directors aren’t happy with money hungry producers selling away parts of their artistic creations. They want more say in what can be placed, and where. (http://www.adrants.com/2005/11/hollywood-wants-product-placement-disclos.php)

The article in the Times is some of the first coverage of this growing controversy. A formal complaint has been issued to the FCC about product placement, and is requesting that action be taken quickly. The complaint was at first rejected, but with the growing attention being focused on this subject, is soon to be reconsidered. The issue that the writers are bringing forth is that this violates the Communications Act, which states that all sponsors of a show must be clearly stated. They are calling for product placement to not only be disclosed at the beginning of a show, but also have an alert when they occur during the show. (http://www.commercialalert.org/fcc.pdf)

I have to say, I find this a bit ridiculous. I understand that the writers and directors aren’t thrilled with being told what goes where, and I understand that it can be considered sneaky. But the action proposed in the complain to the FCC has to be considered ridiculous. People turn to TiVo and other DVR devices precisely for that reason—they are tired of the long commercial breaks and just want to watch their show. They do not want to watch a show that has words pop up on the screen every time a product or brand appears! Television has been described as an escape for people from the real world—people don’t want to be reminded while watching the show that this isn’t happening out in the world somewhere. It seems as if a disclaimer would be ruining the show more than product placement would be.

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