So, as reported by the BBC, the UK is going to lift the ban on product placement within British television programming. The story went something like this:
Adman1 “I’ve got an idea. As UK television revenues are plunging and consumers are now ignoring and fast forwarding through TV advert breaks let’s trick them by placing products into programming. In this way they will be unable to tune out and we will be able to force-feed our advertising messages into their spongy couch-potato brains.”
Adman2 “Brilliant, it’s foolproof, and American TV is some of the best in the world, I especially love the way they blend serious news and advertising messages seamlessly. I reckon that it’s worth a few quid too - bring-on lunch at the IVY.”
Adman1 “Ha, the Internet doesn’t know what is going to hit it, we’re back!”
Admen (together) “Cigars!”
OK, so I’ve drastically simplified the issues but I do think that the move signifies how bankrupt some of our media practices have become. The £100m or so estimated extra revenue that the lifting of the ban will generate will help prop-up the out-dated, and unloved, ad model for a little longer. Whilst the change will bring us into line with our US and European counterparts does it help bring advertising in-line with people who actually spend time watching programmes? Did anyone ask us?
BUT, we tune out because we want to. We fast forward through the bad adverts because we want to. We like to choose the time, place and medium for absorbing advertising content.
Google has gained a monopolistic market share because 90% of the UK search market (us again) find it useful because it fulfills a need. Trying to slip ad-messages into my favourite soap will not work unless it’s useful.
In March Ben Bradshaw’s predecessor, Andy Burnham (Culture Secretary), rejected the idea of lifting the ban saying, ‘I have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides around product placement, and concluded that it should not be permitted in programmes made for this country. There is a lack of evidence of economic benefits, along with very serious concerns about blurring the boundaries between advertising and editorial.‘ [Guardian]
So why the u-turn? Does the change help diffuse some of the criticism aimed at the Beeb for its’ easy ride compared to commercial public service broadcasters during the downturn? Where have the serious concerns gone?
For me it’s the white flag to the digital media age. Rather than adapt the model to be better based on what we want the admen have done what they know best. Although this time, it’s not what we or anyone outside of the madmen bubble want.
Other background at the FT click here.
Post from: Connect