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Ian Burrell

Ian Burrell edits the Media Weekly pages of The Independent.

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Big Macs on Coronation Street?

Posted by Ian Burrell
  • Monday, 4 January 2010 at 02:05 pm
Hide behind the sofa now. Doctors are voicing their concern that Government plans to allow broadcasters to use product placement will put us at risk of being exposed to marketing for unhealthy foods and alcohol.

It seems the British Medical Association, which has written a letter of complaint to the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, and the bookies are perfectly in tune on which brands will see the benefit of appearing in an episode of a top soap.

Paddy Power has installed McDonald's as 2-1 favourite to be the first product to be placed, just ahead of rival Burger King (9-4). The same bookies agree that the booze merchants will be as keen as the peddlers of fast food to get their product on show, and Carling and Guinness are grouped at 3-1.

But should we be so worried? Let's not forget that soap operas began in the US as a vehicle for soap manufacturers to market their wares to a mass audience. Yes, we like to think we have higher broadcasting standards over here but it's rare to see a guest on a British talk show these days who doesn't effectively product place a forthcoming show, book or DVD.

Product placement could bring the ailing commercial broadcasting sector an additional £140m a year so let's not claim, in this modern media age, that the mere sight of instantly-recognisable High Street brands such as the Golden Arches or Pizza Hut are going to corrupt a future generation just because they appear in Weatherfield or Walford.


ancientoneuk wrote:
Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 02:17 am (UTC)
No but by association, people including the young will see it more as endorsement, therefore more likely to flock to it than if it were not there.

There is a very real difference between British TV and elsewhere, American TV is very trashy and product driven, so much to the point of ad nausea, people lamented the "Sponsored by..." segements in front of programmes and the critics of it then were damned right, it would see off cultural television and push company directors to place more programmes that can be sponsored rather than programmes that would attract the least audience.

Look at the difference between ITV now and say 15 years ago, 20 years ago and see the massive difference of then and now, the old perennials were there BUT there was a balance for the inquiring mind, those that wanted to learn, to be educated or to find out what was going on in the world, documentaries are non existant on ITV now and are under fire on Channel 4 and the BBC and thus too these programmes have lost their power, politicians fear them less because they know people will unlikely watch them, in a way our tv is a reflection at how cheap and nasty our society has really become and cheap tricks like blatant product placement will only add to that cheapness, after all this is damned Britain NOT America.
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