As of today product placement will be legally allowed to grace UK TV screens.
Rightly or wrongly, the integration of product placement into traditional television broadcasting is still a contentious issue, and one which has the potential to revolutionise the traditional TV advertising model, at least over the mid to long term.
To coincide with this move, Ofcom – the UK’s broadcast regulator - has launched a new logo that television channels must use to inform viewers about programs that contain product placements. This logo will be displayed for three seconds at the start and end of programs that contain product placements, and will also appear after advertising breaks.
Initial reports are that broadcasters will be allowed to slightly modify the logo, presumably to coincide with their own channel branding and not to integrate the Coca-Cola colour scheme into it!
While this capability undoubtedly requires a relatively simplistic logo that can be added to, from a branding and marketing point of view the current incarnation is extremely unwelcoming and seems to present product placement as a potentially hazardous addition to original programming rather than trying to market it as something more welcoming for consumers.
When TV heavy-weight, Steve Coogan, reintroduced his most popular character, Alan Partridge in purely digital format towards the end of last year, very few consumers saw the placement of the Foster’s logo in the bottom left hand corner of the screen as an intrusive form of marketing.
Television product placement could conceivably be less passive and therefore has the potential to be more intrusive to current programming, but consumers have accepted advertising as an acceptable funding model for quality content for over a century, so there is no evidence to suggest that this form of marketing will significantly impact eyeballs.
The interesting thing will be how broadcasters are able to take this existing template and modify it to their own specifications to make product placement shows more appealing to consumers. In other words, it must be injected with more warmth and presented as less of a warning sign for potential perils that lie ahead!