2.2%: why it will take more than product placement to relieve the UK’s commercial broadcasters current woes

Channel4_news_product_placement Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews Darryl Collins of SeeSaw media on last night's product-placement imagined Channel4 news

so six months after Andy Burnham ruled out the possibility the UK would seem to be on track for product placement after all.  the move – which would see independent broadcasters to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows (excluding news, kids TV and BBC) – will be announced by Ben Bradshaw next week.  shortly after the announcement all hell broke loose.

Metro reported Mediawatch-UK as suggesting that programmers had to be 'very careful' about which products were advertised, and Richard Lindley, of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (just both of them?) as saying: "we believe that product placement destroys the trust of viewers in the programmes they are watching".  if that were the case trust would have already been destroyed – programmes are already packed full of brands (they're a reflection of the real world), its just that now broadcasters and programme makers will be able to monetise the exposure they give to brands in doing so.

there was an interesting exchange between Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Darryl Collins of SeeSaw media on Channel4 news last night:

CGM: do you think that brands can be trusted with this kind of power?

DC: erm

CGM: you work with them.  you know how cynical they are…

DC: of course.  what they're looking for is the greatest ROI … so they're going to have a say in what's going on air, then if that helps generate extra revenue or sales … then yes they will want to get involved

perhaps I'm just the luckiest of planners, but not many if any of the brands that I work or have worked with are that cynical.  most are interested in having a genuine, effective and engaging encounter with the people they are wanting to reach, and if placing products in TV shows allows then to do that then all power to them.  it will be a foolish and ill-advised brand that goes in all guns blazing – pissing off programme makers, broadcasters and ultimately viewers in the process.  no one will win, least of all the brands themselves.

finally a little context.  if, as estimated, ITV see about £30m a year of the £100m or so that's expected to be generated thru the move, its not going to have a huge impact.  about £1.3bn in spot revenues across the network, a good £60m more in sponsorship revenues and say £20 in online totals about £1.38bn.  £30m therefore represents about 2.2% of what ITV are currently generating.  even if ITV was to open the doors as per the below (which they won't), the promise of a few product placements is hardly salvation for the UK's commercial broadcasting sector.

ps thanks Bevvo for the stats and the vid…

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