In the final edition of my short featurette delving into the future of Television, I’ll be looking at a very controversial decision that was made last year. Product placement, the idea of advertising products within television shows. An idea I absolutely hate.
Product placement isn’t something new, it’s used throughout the world, particularly in America. It will be the reason why many of your favourite characters from US shows use Apple Mac computers or drink and ice-cold Coca-Cola. This idea has always been kept out of British TV as we like to keep the adverts within the ad break. But this ban on impartiality will be lifted from the end of February. Ofcom, the media regulator, believe that this will help struggling broadcasters generate more revenue from their programmes. After all who watches ad breaks since PVR’s came along?
You may well be reading this thinking, what’s the problem with having genuine products in our shows so that characters on Corrie can now visit Tesco’s instead of having to settle with ‘Fresco’s’! Surely this will all bring a bit more realism to shows and only be a very subtle addition to our programming.
And if it ends up just being subtle products in the background of shots, then maybe it’ll all be OK. But it wont be that. Product placement will take over our shows. Instead of engaging stories and entertainment, we will constantly have the latest new products shoved in our faces. We’ll be told how this drink keeps you refreshed for longer, how that toaster provides the best results around and how some z-list celebrity’s perfume gets you that romance you crave.
The proof is already out there. Shows like American Idol have the judges drinking only from certain products, with all cups facing the way that shows the logo best. Films like iRobot are just one great big commercial, with directors focusing on getting as many logo shits in instead of something that’s genuinely entertaining.
And this is the real problem. Money is what makes businesses like ITV work. That’s already evident from the sheer amount of cash cows such as X-Factor and I’m a Celeb already on the network. As they crave more and more cash, they’ll try and squeeze more and more adverts into their shows. With pound signs in their eyes, the producers of shows will ditch any kind of quality for one great big hour long commercial.
Of course Ofcom have realised that people like me might not want this and so have required that the TV networks display a logo at the start of any show which contains product placement. But surely this makes the situation worse and just makes me want to look out for those adverts all the more!
We don’t need this in our country. We have some brilliant television (and admittedly some awful stuff) and this would ruin it, would make it cheap and tacky and unwatchable.
In the past few weeks I’ve spoken of some great technological developments, but all of these could become pointless if we end up with dreadful shows on the box. This is what I fear product placement will bring and is the reason that I think February 28th will change TV in our country forever… for the worse.
And that brings me to the end of my short articles about TV’s future. It certainly is an interesting time for telly as it faces challenges both financially and for your attention against such things as the internet. Throw into that new ideas for local TV, user created content and product placement and that box in the front room could be very different system in ten years time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading 😀