Question of the week: what do you think of product placement?

Running Wilde's KFC product placement

Product placement is all the rage – well, it is in the US, but it’ll be true of the UK soon. Yes, UK viewers, soon you’ll be able to see all your favourite products displayed prominently in TV programmes in an entirely natural and seamless manner.

There are benefits to advertisers. Unlike commercials, you can’t forward wind through product placement. When the programme gets sold on DVDs, overseas and online, there it still is. Even if someone downloads it illegally and doesn’t watch it on TV, that product placement still gets viewed. That’s why advertisers have to spend so much to place their products in a programme. All that lovely product placement money, in fact, can be enough to spell the difference between survival and cancellation (at least on NBC, where Heroes and Chuck survived purely because of product placement money).

Now some people might find this irritating. They might feel this corrupts the purity of TV’s “artitude”. Others will just find it incredibly distracting, since it’s rarely integrated as well as might be hoped.

So this week’s question is:

What do you think of product placement? Is it a necessary and even acceptable evil? Or is it distracting and irritating?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog

  • I’d have to fall on the side of necessary evil in these days of PVR’s and Sky+ for commercial stations. However, more than anything it is yet another reason, if one were needed, why the BBC can remain thankfully free of such crass marketing techniques.

  • Mark Carroll

    Lack of it is one of the reasons I don’t begrudge the BBC their licence fee. Or, er, wouldn’t, were I living in the UK.
    Still, well-integrated, I really wouldn’t mind it. Or, maybe, I don’t, if I didn’t noticed. Then again, some advertisements, I know them well, but can’t usually remember which brand they’re actually pushing.
    DVRs do make a big difference. Especially, as some programmes I like get cancelled, partly, I suspect, because they’re aimed at the sort of demographic who also happens to be DVR-owning, so the advertising money doesn’t sufficiently roll in.
    I’d generally prefer television programmes to make their money more directly though, by people actually paying per episode or something. It’s got to be nearly possible, what with iTunes and suchlike. Forget these indirect routes, just let us decide what shows are really worth.

  • Serendipiteevee! I just posted a few thoughts on this trend at Inner Toob and then came over here to find you did the same….

  • bob

    It works well in Mad Men. And I can live with it in Chuck (recent joke in Coup d’etat about Subway was actually good). But what about that scene in Being Erica where Julianne got a new car and they spent a few minutes talking about it and showing off its features? It was basically an infomercial. Just terrible.

  • I don’t know what else happens in that particular storyline, but I would have set up that shot to suggest the Last Supper…..

  • MediumRob

    30 Rock does it well:

  • Best product placement?
    ANTI-product placement – I give you Repo Man, designed to heighten your awareness of all other product placement.
    I’m not fussed really: I was initially irked by programmes being sponsored/promoted by a product (Morse by Guinness????) but it mostly either sails past me or I just giggle at how obvious it is.