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Television Media The Almighty Buck

Group Asks Gov't to Crack Down on Product Placement 614

Buck Mulligan writes "The rise of commercial-skipping Tivo has resulted in greater reliance on "product placement," and Commercial Alert has filed a petition (pdf) with the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to crack down on the practice. Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert writes: "The interweaving of advertising and programming has become so routine that television networks now are selling to advertisers a measure of control over aspects of their programming. Some programs are so packed with product placements that they are approaching the appearance of infomercials. The head of a company that obtained repeated product placements actually called one such program 'a great infomercial.' Yet these programs typically lack the disclosure required of infomercials to uphold honesty and fair dealing.""
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Group Asks Gov't to Crack Down on Product Placement

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  • Just don't look. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Whammy666 ( 589169 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:03PM (#7098358) Homepage
    Kill their ratings and it will stop. Simple. Besides, it has Paul Anka's guarantee.
    • by DaveSchool ( 154247 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:04PM (#7098371)
      Guarantee void in Tennesee.
    • Re:Just don't look. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:42PM (#7098771) Homepage Journal
      Ah, the classic "don't buy from X and they'll stop" approach. That doesn't work very well if you're in the minority.

      And considering that many, many viewers are teens who probably use the product placement as a form of guidance, I think those in the dissent will be in the minority.
  • by Brahmastra ( 685988 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:03PM (#7098362)
    Why should companies be prevented by the government from doing product placement? Now, if a program sucks because of product placement, people will stop watching the program, and the company that makes the product will stop doing the product placement. Let the market control how shitty TV programs are and stop bringing government into every damn thing.
    • by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <tpaine&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:06PM (#7098398) Journal
      Maybe if you read the whole story before clicking reply:
      Yet these programs typically lack the disclosure required of infomercials to uphold honesty and fair dealing.
      • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:18PM (#7098530) Journal
        Right. But they still have all those rules about fraud.

        Show us an example of a bad product placement, one that would be changed by requirements of "honesty and fair dealing," and then perhaps we can consider laws to rectify the problem.

        Otherwise, no one cares.
      • I read that sentence, and still agree whole heartedly that the government shouldn't be involved in this.

        Peace be with you,

      • by Sphere1952 ( 231666 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:52PM (#7098872) Journal
        "... required of infomercials to uphold honesty and fair dealing."

        There is no honesy and fair dealing. If you want honesty and fair dealing then start by breaking up the Big corporations. After they're gone we ought to be able to get small and medium sized businesses to behave.
      • Disclosure? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity&sbcglobal,net> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:02PM (#7098958) Homepage Journal
        Maybe it's because the TV programs are fiction.

        I have to agree with the original post. I don't see the big deal here. If you don't want to see ads, turn off the tube. If you don't want to see product placements in your TV series, watch different TV series. Or don't watch the TV at all.

        Consider this: I pretty much just watch football on TV, which is nothing but product placements -- not just for the various equipment manufacturers and beer companies, but also for the teams themselves. There are no disclaimers necessary, because if the equipment is bad, I'll get a good chance to see it for myself.
        • Re:Disclosure? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by be-fan ( 61476 )
          Its not about having to watch the ads, or what should be the law about infomercials. There is a law on the books about truth in infomercials. If you don't like it (I don't either) then work to get it repealed. But its there for the time being. What this measure is about is closing a possible loophole (through product-placement) in the laws about infomercials.
        • Re:Disclosure? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by willfe ( 6537 )

          ...also, don't open a magazine or newspaper, don't turn on a radio or television set at all, don't go outside (billboards, flying banners, cars and buses dolled up to be mobile ads, etc.), don't use public transportation, don't answer your phone, and don't answer your door. While you're home, don't look at web sites or check your e-mail, either.

          Sorry, but the "ignore the problem if you don't like it" argument just doesn't cut it -- the problem certainly doesn't go away, and the ads get more and more incid

    • by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:10PM (#7098449) Homepage
      Why should the government impose any limits at all on advertising? If enough people die from taking drugs for a condition where the drug hurts rather than helps, people will stop buying that drug, right?

      Government intervention may be appropriate here because product placement is a form of commercial speech, and courts have recognized that the government has legitimate interest in limiting some forms of commercial speech. The steps you hypothesize for the market to limit the product are naive: How many old TV shows or movies stopped using cigarettes because they caused lung cancer?
      • If enough people die from taking drugs for a condition where the drug hurts rather than helps, people will stop buying that drug, right?
        That's a lot of needless deaths, don't you think. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

        1) Most people don't research anything they buy. I'm not condoning their behavior (I think they're sheep), but I don't want them to die because of it!

        2) Its not going to be control over advertising that allows the government to impinge on our free
    • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:13PM (#7098490) Homepage
      Let the market control how shitty TV programs are and stop bringing government into every damn thing.

      Because the market is doing such a great job of controling the quality of television programming here, especially compared to places where the programming quality is clearly inferior, like those socialist English folks and their BBC.

      That's not even really the point, of course. What's being suggested is that product placement needs to be monitored for the sorts of suggestions that made truth in advertising laws necessary.
      • Funny how we keep importing concepts that first get produced in the UK such as Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, The Weakest Link, Coupling, Trading Spaces (Changing Rooms)...
    • Due Process (Score:2, Interesting)

      OK, I understand you don't like government regulation. But since we HAVE regulation over commercials the petition is saying there shouldn't be an end run via product placement. If you're not going to eliminate the regulation of commercials then apply the rules across the board. The petition isn't saying to get rid of product placement, it's only saying the standards should apply to both.

      i.e. everyone gets treated the same. No counting a commercial from Broward county without counting a product placeme
    • Yeah, the govment is just a mess and we don't want the govment messing wit our bizness.

      I am very happy that the Government has:

      Passed a pure food and drug act so I don't have to eat food that has been treated / raised/ slaughtered in an unhealthy manner.

      Set standards for roads and cars and aircraft.

      Agreed upon standards for the use of the RF spectrum.

      Review and approve medicines.

      but. . . we don't need no stinking govment

      Quite frankly, I'm tired of the marketers and I'm certain that the writers, p
      • Passed a pure food and drug act so I don't have to eat food that has been treated / raised/ slaughtered in an unhealthy manner.

        And also imposes delays of years for potentially life-saving drugs. There are always tradeoffs.

        but. . . we don't need no stinking govment

        There is a difference between limited government and no government. And I would submit that even if you do believe an activist government is a good way to solve the ills of society, there are much more pressing problems than Coke cans in T

    • If product placement does result in a dishonest or fraudulent portrayal of a product under the guise of "drama" it should be governed by the same rules that govern obvious advertising.

      When a commercial comes on, you know it's a commercial. Product placement is potentially more insidious because you cannot always know that it is being done deliberately.

    • Or, if you don't like the product placements, complain about them when the sales rep comes calling. I can think of several companies that I will not do business with because of their advertising practices.
  • Howard Stern (Score:5, Interesting)

    by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <tpaine&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:04PM (#7098372) Journal
    I heard howard interview a b-movie actress who said that she gets paid by advertisers to drop a product name on interview shows (eg: The tonight show).
    • Re:Howard Stern (Score:5, Informative)

      by tpaddock ( 254149 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:15PM (#7098501)
      It was Kathy Griffin, and she said she got paid to go tour around all the talk shows with her only goal being to advertise the product. She would slip in it in story, and often had to tell the show beforehand that she was there to promote the product.
  • by NivenHuH ( 579871 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:05PM (#7098378) Homepage
    This is one thing I strongly disagree with. The government should not step in and tell us wether or not we can place certain products or use certain 'props' in tv shows, movies, or anything else.. If people hate the advertising that goes with tv programming, then they should boycott it all together or complain to the people who create the shows. Having the government regulate it is definitely restricting our civil rights.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:18PM (#7098536) Journal
      I'm fairly libertarianish, but you need to realize where this is coming from.

      Newspapers and magazines can do essentially anything they want, in the US. Broadcast bandwidth is a scarce resource, though, and needs to be regulated or it would be worthless. For that reason, broadcast rights are strictly limited by the FCC, and there are regulations that limit how people with broadcast rights can act, including how much commercial content they can run.

      I'm not especially worked up about product placement (the WB keeps driving up the resale value of my TiBook, and now Rory Gilmore is increasing the prestige of my Yale degree, as well!) but given that I'd go to jail if I opened by own TV station, I see the reason to tell ABC and CBS what they can do with theirs.

    • by VertigoAce ( 257771 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:19PM (#7098549)
      It isn't really about restricting advertising in TV shows, it's about the truth of those advertisements. There are restrictions on what you can say in a normal ad (you can't create an ad that says smoking cigarettes will cure lung cancer). The issue is whether the cigarette company could instead pay a tv show to do it for them.
  • I agree. (Score:5, Funny)

    by jjp5421 ( 659783 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:05PM (#7098380) Homepage
    Yes, as I sit here reading with my ice cold, refreshing Coca-Cola, I think that you are correct. The only way to get this to stop is by signing the Adobe Acrobat PDF petition.
  • by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:05PM (#7098381) Homepage
    I know it sounds wierd... but people need to realize that watching TV is not a right. And the producers of programs need to be compensated for their production.

    Do you want the governemnt to get larger and create more regulation? Do you want free TV? If so then expect commericals. Expect product placement. If you don't then purchase your TV channels. Or just turn the silly thing off.

    Read a book. Perferably a classic... but that's another topic.

    • by honeygrl ( 512483 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:13PM (#7098489)
      "If you don't then purchase your TV channels. "

      We do purchse our TV channels. The cable company pays X cents per channel per Y # of customers for each channel they offer. Each channel sets their price. My hubby works for the local cable company and told me the reason cable prices had gone up was because they had been paying 10 cents per channel for Y number of customers and the price had gone up to 30 cents. The stations can pretty much raise the price all they want and people don't complain to them because they don't know how it works. They just complain to the cable company about their prices going up instead.
    • Actually, I do want goverment to get larger and create more regulation, and I do want free TV. OK, I live in Canada, I have a government I can trust <grin>.

      I look at my favorite TV shows, including Black Adder, Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf, Dr. Who, Absolutly Fabulous, Monty Python etc. and realize that they all came out of a government funded, non-profit television network. The programming shows a creativity and reality unheard of in for-profit television production. Absolutly Fabulous couldn't even
    • by szquirrel ( 140575 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:19PM (#7098552) Homepage
      I know it sounds wierd... but people need to realize that watching TV is not a right. And the producers of programs need to be compensated for their production.

      You might have a point when it comes to cable and satalite TV but we do have a right to dictate how the public airwaves are used. We the public grant TV stations the right to use the airwaves for their broadcast in return for their promise to adhere to a standard of quality that we set. The TV companies are then free to do anything that will make them a profit but only as long as they play by the rules we set.

      That means that if enough people want to regulate product placement, then product placement will be regulated. Our airwaves, our rules.
    • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:21PM (#7098566)
      I know it sounds wierd... but people need to realize that watching TV is not a right. And the producers of programs need to be compensated for their production.

      I know it sounds wierd... but people need to realize that advertising is not a right. And the viewers of programs need to be secure in the knowledge that what is presented as fact, opinion, view, or endorsement is correctly attributed to those who actually put it forward. Only in this way can economic agents take into account the agenda of the other party, and correctly assess the message's merit or accuracy. Actively pursueing to hide the source of the message serves only to obscure that agenda, and amounts quite simply to misleading the viewers; which may be substantially different to false advertising, but is fraudulent none the less.

      Put in economic terms; it distorts the marketplace of ideas.

      In stock markets such practices (distributing messages about the positive aspects of a stock, while obscuring the source) is flat out illegal. Think of it in terms of shilling, astroturfing, misrepresenting, impersonating, etc. For financial gain.

      And that's just the economic reasons why it's a Bad Thing, not to mention the moral implications of, well, dishonesty.
    • If I had mod points, I sure would pump this one up.

      It's not like there's much else the tv folks can do, what with TiVo coming around. Without ad revenue, there's no way they can put on their shows. And as more and more people take advantage of the technology to skip the ads, the ads become less attractive to advertisers, and less profitable to the network. They've got to find some way to pay for the shows we watch.
    • by dR.fuZZo ( 187666 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:27PM (#7098641)
      Do you want free TV? If so then expect commericals. Expect product placement. If you don't then purchase your TV channels.

      Oh, that's funny... I pay my cable bills every month, yet somehow I still get all these commercials. I'll have to give the cable company a call, because they must have goofed up and forgotten to take them out.
  • Damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:05PM (#7098382) Homepage Journal
    I just heard: the Mattel and Mars Bar Chocobot Hour just got cancelled.
  • by cliffy2000 ( 185461 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:05PM (#7098386) Journal
    I use my TIVO(c) DVR and I can fast forward through any of those annoying commercials. Did I mention that I love my IKEA(c) bed? It's so comfortable.
    Now, let me finish typing this on my APPLE(c) Powerbook G4.
    • by Atario ( 673917 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:15PM (#7098512) Homepage
      ...why are we blaming TiVo for increasing product placement? Seems to me you could just as easily blame the Internet (before I got a TiVo, I would web-surf during the ads) or the remote control (before that, I channel-surfed).

      Or, more pointedly, you could blame the networks. Same people who bring you corner logos (now opaque, full-color, moving pictures, on all the time) and promos during the end credits (no longer content to talk over them, now they squish them off to an unreadable size and speed and insert a 75%-screen-coverage full-video promo spot) and even during the show (superimposed crawls, anyone?).

      They can all lick my center of gravity.
  • talk about wishful thinking - are the mega-corps really going to pass on this opportunity? Every time Jennifer Anistion gets her hair cut millions of American women run out and get the latest new hairdo. So why not include candy bars, soda pop, and autos? I say lets bring back smoking on TV and really get the money rolling in!
  • I have a complementary issue: Why do you or don't you watch TV? Is it fun, worthwhile, interesting, and fulfilling? Is it passive, tedious, exploitative, and manipulative?

    If very few people spent much time watching content filled with commercials, what would happen? What would advertisers do?

  • by El ( 94934 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:07PM (#7098403)
    outlawing product placement would also drive all travel shows off the air, as well as monster house, monster garage, all game shows, all shows set in an obvious city (like Las Vegas), etc. Seriously, where do you draw the line?
    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:21PM (#7098564) Homepage Journal
      When you can't tell the differnce between advertising and the show.

      Basically, they want to be sure that the shows don't violate truth in advertising.
      Or that som news show doesn't do an article on the health benefits od (insert paid product ad here)
      or worse, take money from company A to report the bad dealings at the competitor.

      They people in charge of this are drawing the line. If you don't like it, get active and try to change it. I suspect the line will be perfectly acceptable to most reasonable people.
  • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:07PM (#7098407)
    This is really a side issue, but the distributors are getting power over the content based on product ads as well.

    For example, assume Miramax signs a deal with Coors such that all characters in a film are shown drinking Coors in the US version of the film, but signs a different deal for the Asian distribution so that the characters are shown drinking Kirin. They simply digitally edit the masters for each region.

    While that example was fictional, there have been independant films that have been modified by the distributor because the filmmaker use the "wrong" product when making the movie.
  • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:07PM (#7098408) Journal
    I don't know about television, but there is little question that the only possible response to movie piracy is product placement. With product placement, you might even encourage people to pirate movies.

    • Remember "Mac and Me?"

      The moment we see Gandalf drinking an ice cold vanilla coke in a movie is the moment we know commericalism has defeated creativity.

      People bitch about ads and people bitch about paying money.

      If you want "free" movies supported solely by advertisers then you're in for a lot of horrible movie going experiences.

      If you want quality, you have to pay for it. Is it really such a burden? Can't afford to buy your own copy or $8 for a ticket? Wait till it goes to rental or hits the dollar
  • Six Words.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Queer Eye For The Straight Guy
  • by EggMan2000 ( 308859 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:07PM (#7098413) Homepage Journal
    Product placement has been getting on my nerves lately on NBC specifically. My wife thinks I weird to point it out, but, man it is laughable at some the blatent placement. A couple examples concerning on company: Computer Associates []

    I was watching ER, and they had three of their products in promenetly displayed near some binders at the check-in nursing station thing. Why would a nurses station need to have software such as ArcServIT, BrightStor, UniCenter, etc.. all nicely lined up next to the monitor of their PC? It's just so odd, and does not fit in with the audience at all. These are Enterprise software suites that cost thousands of dollars.

    Additionally, I saw the very same CA lineup in "Just Shoot Me", behind the CEO's desk, next to pictures of his family, and stuff. It would make so much more sense if the product placements were appropriate to the audience.

  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:08PM (#7098419) Homepage Journal
    As I sit down in front of my Dell monitor drinking Mountain Dew Code Red ("A taste as real as the streets"), I can't help but wonder the depths to which product placement has affected us. After all, wasn't it in "The Matrix" - Catch The Matrix Revolutions only in theaters this November where we are encouraged to "free our minds"? I can't believe that TiVo - TV Your Way is being blamed for a decline in traditional advertising on networks like Fox -- check out their new Monday night line-up!.

    I think people need to mellow out with a Guinness Draught - drink straight from the bottle and just learn to enjoy the ride. After all, if you really wanted to enjoy some independent thought, you wouldn't watch Philips High-Definition Plasma Screen - higher-resolution than reality.
  • Think about it (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Exiler ( 589908 )
    I was just sitting here drinking my Syrup-syra from a new, bigger 24 oz. bottle when I spilled some on my new PoP(TM) pre-torn bleached shirt because I was laughing at the SUK network, the best channel in the world when I realized, damn, we're surrounded by advertising.

    I quickly got into my Maku Jumhp basketball shoes and ran outside, trying to get away from the labels and icons.
  • ...and if you don't know that, then, well, you shouldn't be watching TV. I mean really... selling on TV! Oooh! TV shows on broadcast TV are not some pristine, ad-free venues for directors and writers. They're corporate schlock designed to sell or to influence. Hell, the US gov't has been paying TV series for years if they include a "drungs are bad, m'kay?" theme in the story. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go purchase a fantastic /. t-shirt from Think Geek []
  • I remember the big controversy over the Cheerio's box in the first Superman movie.

    People should realize that such product placement ads some realism. It looks artificial when you see those "Home Improvement" reruns and the kids are all drinking a vaguely-Coke-looking generic cola.

    Remember, in the real world, people actually do drink Snapple, and eat Junior Mints (a couple of examples of name-brand products appearing in "Seinfeld")

    As long as they do not go overboard like Dr Tongue in the 3-d House of Panc
  • Product placement is used to uphold the realism in television and movies. Chances are, even without advertising, that movies would contain scenes where characters drink Coke or go to Wal-Mart. With product placement, shows get to generate some extra cash to make their show for something they were likely to do in the first place.
    Back in the old old old Edison days, there wasn't product placement. In films characters held bottles labeled 'Beer' and ate from boxes labeled 'Cereal.' Things like that just woul
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:10PM (#7098441) Homepage Journal
    I don't know if it's really that bad. What's more annoying: a full-force block of annoying commercials, or random insertion of objects into programs as examples of typical use? Do you want a 30 second song-and-dance involving anthropomorphic anything, or being able to see that Monica is obviously using the newest Swiffer to clean the kitchen floor, and maybe makes a remark to the effect of how well it works?

    Actually, I think people would rather have the commercials. Companies realize that commercial blocks are incredibly easy to get up and walk away from, and people use those bits of time to get other stuff done. If they can remove the obvious demarcation between programming and advertising, the audience is captive.
  • Don't "blame" TiVo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScottSpeaks! ( 707844 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:10PM (#7098445) Homepage Journal
    TiVo doesn't "skip commercials" any more than a VCR does. Either one requires the viewer to fast-play while watching the screen and then press a button when it reaches the part of the recording you want to watch. TiVo performs the job less clunkily than a VCR (the advantage of disk storage over tape), but that's it. (I believe ReplayTV is the one that actually has a commercial-skipping feature.)
  • people need to figure that out!
  • Bigger Fish to Fry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:11PM (#7098459) Homepage
    We've got bigger fish to fry.

    First off, I have to say that when it's done decently, I see no problem with product placement. Untill it's like the hot chocolate mix add in the movie "The Truman Show", I don't have a problem. I don't mind if when a guy is drinking a soda on TV it's a REAL Coke can as opposed to something that looks almost exactly like a Coke can but say "Cola" on it or something. As long as the camera doesn't zoom in on it or otherwise notice it, it's fine with me.

    That said, if there is one thing to fix on TV, I would make the language get fixed. Prime time TV has become a sewer. "I Love Lucy" was (and still is) a funny show without having to have the characters talk like sailors. There are some situations where I understand it (ER does a good job for the most part) but overall I think there is too much cursing on TV. That famous "7 words you can't say on TV" bit (I think it's George Carlin's?), I think I heard that almost all of those words are allowed now.

    I haven't noticed an increase in product placement, which means that if it's happening, they are doing a good job and I don't mind. I'd rather we focus on the cussing.

    Sorry guys, that's the facts, IMHO.

    • That said, if there is one thing to fix on TV, I would make the language get fixed. Prime time TV has become a sewer. "I Love Lucy" was (and still is) a funny show without having to have the characters talk like sailors. There are some situations where I understand it (ER does a good job for the most part) but overall I think there is too much cursing on TV. That famous "7 words you can't say on TV" bit (I think it's George Carlin's?), I think I heard that almost all of those words are allowed now.

      Fuck y
    • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:42PM (#7098772) Journal
      I think I heard that almost all of those words are allowed now.
      Hm. Ignorant AND credulous. There's a winning combo.

      FYI, the seven words are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. (George Carlin actually made up that list; there's quite a lot of others you couldn't say then and still can't say now.) At any rate, none of those words are allowable on American broadcast television, even now, in late 2003. You'll hear them on (some) cable channels, but not on the networks. (There may have been occasional exceptions, but I doubt many.)

      There's not a lot of cussing on broadcast TV, which is presumably what you're referring to. At worst, it's the low-level swear words: damn, hell, ass. You think words like that are offensive? Or that they're any more prevalent than they are in real life? God* help you.

      * There is no God.

  • Some programs are so packed with product placements that they are approaching the appearance of infomercials.

    This is absolute rubbish. No modern media source would do this these days.

    This post was brought to you by

  • If increasing the amount of product placements can reduce the interruptions (read: commercials) during television programmes, I'm all for it. Of course, that's probably not how it's going to work, but it would be nice.
  • These idiots would have us believe that we're on a collision course to the sort of product placement that was featured in the Truman Show (stop talking, hawk product to Truman-errr the audience). I don't even notice it 90% of the time unless it's something like a Macintosh being used for something cool (I like Macs, that's why I notice). Who gives a flying fuck about characters drinking coca cola? Your neighbor probably has a six pack of it in his/her house. Why the hell can't a character on tv drink it jus
  • Whatever (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ektor ( 113899 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:12PM (#7098473)
    The rise of commercial-skipping Tivo

    I seriously doubt Tivos with their puny penetration have anything to do with it. They should blame it on something called the remote control. That and increasing competition for advertising giving greater power to those that hold the money.

    I honestly have not seen really obnoxious examples of product placement but then I don't watch much network tv.

  • by El ( 94934 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:13PM (#7098478)
    Today, I was watching something called the "Home Shopping Network", and the amount of product placement was truely appalling! Really! The government needs to do something about this!
  • I haven't noticed product placement in a long time. I've noticed the WWE endorsing the Rock's new movie, if that counts.

    I say let them pollute TV with product placement, if ppl get tired of it, they'll go on the net.
  • What was that noise? Oh. That was the noise of the entire slashdot readership rolling their eyes.

    Normally I wouldn't presume to speak for all of us.

    Perhaps they should start complaining when they have an example of an actual bad thing that happened, and then show how regulation could and should prevent it.

    If HBO wants to show all it's characters living it up with Perrier-Jouet champagne, that's up to them. Hell. They even show a character drunk on Perrier-Jouet stick her head out of a limosine and die. I
  • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@ p o l i t r> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:16PM (#7098515) Homepage Journal
    Smoking in teenagers and watching films showing smoking

    What kind of title is this really? To use something not even written properly is digraceful I mean what teh fsck? [source listed on pdf []]

    Hollywood needs to stop promoting smoking worldwide

    What ever happened to freedom of choice? Philip Morris co isn't forcing anyone to smoke, nor is Hollywood. People make their own decisions and not some advertiser.

    The tobacco industry recruits and retains smokers by associating its products with excitement, sex, wealth, rebellion, and independence. Films are a powerful way to make this connection---and, as a paper in this week's issue of Tobacco Control shows,1 they succeed.

    Retains smokers with sex, wealth, rebellion? Shit where is my money, and sex? I smoke because I choose to, and I know the consequences of my actions. I am not being misled by anyone but myself for smoking. These lobby groups distort facts, and this request is ridiculous. Personally I think this group should have specified a "specific" company, as their current demand can affect anyone advertising. Say someone on Friends drinking Pepsi, get realistic what would they expect a cloudy dot around anything with a label? Oh Please, Patriot Act for advertising now. Shoddy article, unrealistic demand.

  • by shaka999 ( 335100 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:19PM (#7098542)
    I love my Tivo! I can't imagine going back to the stone age of TV and having to watch on someone elses schedule.

    That said, I also realize that they have to pay for the programming somehow. With Tivo like DVRs really taking off (I heard DirectTV is selling a on of Tivo based DVRs) it is putting the stations cash cows in jeopardy. Personally I'd much rather have some product placment in the show then have to pay more than I already do for programming.

    I do agree that there will need to be some regulation on these placements to bring them in line with more conventional commercials.
  • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@ p o l i t r> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:19PM (#7098553) Homepage Journal
    When I was ([post sponsored by Politrix []) writing this I was thinking ([Sponsor []) thinking about how much money ([Symantec []) product placements generate. Maybe ([Pepsi []) Slashdot should look into this for ([RSA []) revenue generation?
  • Pretty soon, you'll have people believing they can buy what they see in TV shows. Me, I'm going to walk into my local Best Buy and ask where the neuralyzers are, or go to Circuit City and try to find a phaser.
  • Blaming Tivo? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:22PM (#7098579)
    Aren't there only a couple hundred thousand (or so) PVRs in use? Neither ReplayTV nor Tivo has been wildly successful.

    Of course you can take mine when you pry it from my cold, dead etc....
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:22PM (#7098584) Homepage Journal
    The television is not a babysitter. ... one more time with a little more effort ... The television is not a babysitter.

    Ahhhh now was that so hard? Since when do we need to compel the government to acknowledge that parents would rather put little Tommy in front of the TV and go about their own things then to start acting like parents and put an interest in the influences their children are exposed to.

    If you have kids, then you are a parent, if you are a parent ACT LIKE IT. This is quite simple, stop relying on "the villiage" to "raise the child" and start acting like a parent.

    Stop acting so damned surprised to see that your kids are exploring things without you, and making up their own reasonings for those things? If you ignore your kids, they will cope, but don't start complaining about it. And if you don't want the responsibility of looking after a child, then don't have one.

    Kids aren't stupid, stop thinking they are, maybe we need to put the stupid identifier on mommy and daddy. Just tired of everyone wanting to "defend the innocence of a child" because of their own indifferences of their childrens lives. Look up neglect before you start claiming neglegance.

  • Nothing New (Score:4, Insightful)

    by psydeshow ( 154300 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:24PM (#7098610) Homepage
    Do you ever watch Entertainment Tonight? Who do you think pays for that show... could it be... movie studios?

    Seriously, it's one big infomercial, only you don't notice because "entertainment news" is a genre that predates our notions of product placement.

    Banning this sort of commercial speech would mean the end of television as we know it in the U.S., because most shows (especially game shows and "reality" programs) rely to some degree on the income generated by loan-outs, trade-outs, and outright sponsorship. In other words, not gonna happen.

  • Basically, a law prohibiting product ad placement would be regulation of the content of speech, and would therefore be a violation of first amendment free speech guarantees.

    Besides, this isn't new. Since the early days of television, advertisers have had a tremendous amount of influence over the producers of content. Product ad placement is just another form of this. If you don't like it, don't watch programs that have product ad placement. If enough people agree with you and do the same, the marketpla
  • What would the Doctor be without his jelly babies? Oh no, we can't have the Sonic Screwdriver return because it might be a veiled product placement for Mac or Snap-On Tools! No K-9 because he's really a Sony Aibo! And the TARDIS is really product placement for AT&T!
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:25PM (#7098624) Homepage Journal
    I hate Fraudulant product placement. I watched 2001 and I want to go into space aboard a Pan-Am space ship!
    lying bastards.
  • by DCowern ( 182668 ) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:40PM (#7098760) Homepage

    I don't know if anyone here is old enough to remember (I certainly am not) but the television industry engaged in this practice pretty much since its inception up until the 60's. The radio industry engaged in it for many years before that.

    Your parents can tell you about phrases such as "the Ed Sullivan show, brought to you by..." and "the comedy hour", or the omnipresent product-based game shows. I don't know if Let's Make a Deal was the first, but it certainly popularized it.

    What about The Price is Right? That show is perhaps the last relic of product placement based television. There's so little content in that show that it's laughable but there's dozens upon dozens of product placements. That show's been around longer than I've been alive. This practice is certainly nothing new.

    To be honest, I'd much rather have advertisement embedded in the programs I'm watching as opposed to sitting through 15 minutes of commercials during a 30 minute TV program or 20 minutes of ads before a movie. It's much less intrusive.

  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:54PM (#7098887) Homepage
    The problem in advertising today is that the market is saturated. Every vertical and horizontal surface, every book, every magazine, TV show, radio show, tape, dvd, CD insert, restaurant menu, bathroom, cereal box, and milk jug in America is covered with one form of advertisement or another. It's become so much static to most people that the best the most advertisers can hope for is that they flood enough of their trademark or buzzword out there that we'll be imprinted with it and familiar with it enough to maybe buy it if we're in the position to do so.

    Most companies now spend more in marketing and advertising than they do on research and development. Sometimes like within the pharmaceutical companies it's dispraportionate to say the least (think millions vs. billions). All the while they are ignoring the signs that the consumers they are trying to reach are just overwhelmed, tired, and burnt out. The consumers don't want to get another SMS message about Viagra, they've seen everyone and their brother push 10-10-blah blah blah, they could care less about penis enlargement, they got the oxy-clean and it sucked... and on and on and on. They're tired of getting burned by products that are nothing like they are represented to be and they're tired of seeing advertisements that say absolutely NOTHING about the product (livitra!!!!) They're tired of 1/6 of their screen being taken up by ads during the broadcast and then 22 minutes of an hour long show being commercials. They're frustrated with not being able to watch ANY show without seeing some dumbass branding icon covering a corner of the screen.

    And what do the advertisers and networks do in response to this burn out - attempt to stoke the fires by finding NEW ways to reach the customer. HELLO!!! IS ANYONE OUT THERE? IS ANYONE LISTENING?!? YOU'RE SCARING AWAY CUSTOMERS NOT DRAWING THEM IN. They're checking out, they're ditching their TV's, they're watching only DVD's, reading books, hiking. They don't want more ads, they want entertainment, and they sure as hell don't want ads weakly disguised as entertainment, newstainment, infotainment, or any other "snazzy" new term.

    So when the industry won't listen and won't learn and won't even attempt to come to the level of the consumer then what choice does the consumer have? Government regulation! Yes it's sad but true. See companies continue to profit not because of growth or new business but by making lower quality products, selling at higher prices, and outsourcing everything imaginable. Then when sales can no longer produce any profit and all of the costs have been cut there are three choices buy out, sell out, sue (rinse and repeat).

    Once they take one of these strategies it becomes an endless cycle. They get a few years maybe of more of the same cost cutting out sourcing, growth through acquisition, money from investors who think they see a profit. Then a few years down the line they spin off the businesses again, promise new and better products and start the cycle over.

    We see it right now. The RIAA companies have merged so many times that theres hardly anyone left, costs are high despite cost cutting measures, sales are low despite massive marketing efforts. The only out increase advertising and SUE the consumer. 'Of course it's the consumers fault that profits are down and if they just couldn't skip over our advertisements or block them out then they'd have to pay'.

    Look at the entertainment market today. You have perfectly good shows being cancelled because advertisers don't know how to market to that group of a million people. They can't figure out what product this demographic or that demographic will respond to so when their spots fail to bring in any new sales they drop it and great shows go away. And who loses - the consumer.

    So tell me what are the options? Dropping out doesn't seem to have made TV any better. Most people I know watch maybe a hour or two a week and TV continues to get worse. Movies are crap with few exceptions, music is garbage, I can't pick up a magazine or a newspaper without being frustrated by the amount of ads. How EXACTLY do we get through to the companies that they need to knock it off with all of the damn advertising (aside from direct government regulation).
  • My thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @07:01PM (#7098948)

    Characters in TV shows and movies have to use various items as props. Sometimes these are chosen with business motivations in mind. As a viewer, I'm okay with this, as long as it does not detract from the show.

    For instance, Halle Berry has a Ford Thunderbird in the latest 007 film. That's fine. But if Bond had borrowed it for a gratuitous car chase, all the while commenting on its superb handling and acceleration, that would certainly have ruined the movie. Stick a product in in a context where one might realistically encounter it. Don't comment on it, extol its virtues, or zoom in for a close up of it.

    Trying too hard to avoid product placement can be just as distracting. A can labelled "COLA" and with a not-quite-Coke design looks fake. Pixellating out the names of products and stores as if they were nudity is annoying.

    Basically, I don't care whether the hero reaches for a Dasani or an Aquafina as long as it's unobtrusive, realistic for the character, non-distracting, and so on. If the audience consciously notices the item as being plugged, the advertising was too conspicuous.

  • by daveo0331 ( 469843 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @08:28PM (#7099567) Homepage Journal
    when Sesame Street is brought to you by the letters S, C, and O, and the number 699.
  • by Mike Hawk ( 687615 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @09:09PM (#7099825) Journal
    For the next time some hippy says "information wants to be free." Well clearly only some information according to the slashbots. If information wants to be free, so be it. If someone is showing you that, in their humble opinion, pepsi is a delicious beverage far superior to other national brands, so be it. If someone is demonstrating that, in their humble opinion, a honda is a mighty fine automobile to drive, so be it.

    Oh government, save us from Fox Mulder getting a haircut at supercuts. Look at that basketball player! He's clearly wearing nike shoes! But don't you dare say whose copyright we can and cannot infringe.

    From []
    What truth-in-advertising rules apply to advertisers?
    Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:

    advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
    advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
    advertisements cannot be unfair.
    Additional laws apply to ads for specialized products like consumer leases, credit, 900 telephone numbers, and products sold through mail order or telephone sales. And every state has consumer protection laws that govern ads running in that state.

    Wow no mention of to what types of advertisements this applies. So I bet it already covers product placement.

    Oh Holy Government, deliver us from everyone who sells products. Most Benevolent Government, I cannot get myself to turn the TV off, so please, in thine mercy, clense the airwaves of any chance for profit. I mean, jobs are soooooooo overrated.

    So is information free, or not?

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak